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UNIVERSITY OF N.C. AT CHAPEL HILL 



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THE LIBRARY OF THE 

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ENDOWED BY THE 

DIALECTIC AND PHILANTHROPIC 

SOQETIES 



prUtio 
.CT 

1892 



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CRANFORD 

AND OTHER TALES 



POCKET EDITION 

OF 

MRS. GASKELL^S WORKS. 

In Eight Volumes, bound in Half-Cloth, 
with cut or uncut edges. 

Price 15. 6d. per Volume. 



CONTENTS OF THE VOLUMES, 

1. WIVES AND DAUGHTERS. 

2. NORTH AND SOUTH. 
a. SYLVIA'S LOVERS. 

4. CRANFORD, and other Tales. 

5. MARY BARTON, and other Tales. 

6. RUTH, and other Tales. 

7. A DARK NIGHT'S WORK, and other Tales. 

8. MY LADY LUDLOW, and other Tales. 

Mrs. GaskelVs Works can also he had in Seven Vohi7nes, small 
^ost Svo, litnp cloth, 2s. 6d. each; or, with Four Illustrations 
to each Volume^ crown Zvo, 3^. (id, each. 



LONDON : SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE. 



CRANFORD 

AND OTHER TALES 

c 7 

BY 

MRS. GASKELL 



LONDON 
SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE 

1892 



m 



CONTENTS. 



CRANFORD . 

THE squire's story . 

CURIOUS IF TRUE 

THE MOORLAND COTTAGE 

DISAPPEARANCES 

RIGHT AT LAST . 

THE MANCHESTER LL\RRIAGI 

LOIS THE WITCH 



7 

189 
205 

3c6 
316 
335 
3^3 






o 



CRANFORD. 



CHAPTER I. 

OUR SOCIETY. 

IN the first place, Cranford is in possession of the Amazons ; 
all the holders of houses above a certain rent are women. 
If a married couple come to settle in the town, somehow the 
gentleman disappears ; he is either fairly frightened to death by 
being the only man 'in the Cranford evening parties, or he is 
accounted for by being with his regiment, his ship, or closely 
engaged in business all the week in the great neighbouring com- 
mercial town of Drumble, distant only twenty miles on a rail- 
road. In short, whatever does become of the gentlemen, they 
are not at Cranford. What could they do if they were there? 
The surgeon has his round of thirty miles, and sleeps at Cran- 
ford ; but every man cannot be a surgeon. For keeping the 
trim gardens full of choice flowers without a weed to speck them ; 
ior frightening away little boys who look wistfully at the said 
flowers through the railings ; for rushing out at the geese that 
occasionally venture into the gardens if the gates are left open ; 
for deciding all questions of literature and pohtics without 
troubling themselves with unnecessary reasons or argunients ; 
for obtaining clear and correct knowledge of everybody's aflairs 
in the parish ; for keeping their neat maid-servants in admirable 
order ; for kindness (somewhat dictatorial) to the poor, and real 
tender good offices to each other whenever they are in distress, 
the ladies of Cranford are quite sufficient. " A man," as one of 
them observed to me once, "is so in the way in the house ! " 
Although the ladies of Cranford know all each other's proceed- 
ings, they are exceedingly indifferent to each other's opinions. 
Indeed, as each has her own individuahty, not to say eccentri- 
city, pretty strongly developed, nothing is so easy as verbal 
7 



5' CRANFORD. 

retaliation ; but, somehow, good-will reigns among them to a 
considerable degree. 

The Cranford ladies have only an occasional little quarrel, 
spirted out in a few peppery words and angry jerks of the head ; 
just enough to prevent the even tenor of their lives from becoming 
too flat. Their dress is very independent of fashion ; as they 
observe, " What does it signify how we dress here at Cranford, 
where everybody knows us?" And if they go from home, their 
reason is equally cogent, " What does it signify how we dress 
here, where nobody knows us?" The materials of their clothes 
are, in general, good and plain, and most of them are nearly as 
scrupulous as Miss Tyler, of cleanly memory ; but I will answer 
for it, the last gigot, the last tight and scanty petticoat in wear 
in England, was seen in Cranford — and seen without a smile. 

I can testify to a magnificent family red silk umbrella, under 
which a gentle little spinster, left alone of many brothers and 
sisters, used to patter to church on rainy days. Have yoii any red 
silk umbrellas in London ? We had a tradition of the first that 
had ever been seen in Cranford ; and the little boys mobbed it, 
and called it "a stick in petticoats." It might have been the 
very red silk one I have described, held by a strong father over 
a troop of little ones ; the poor little lady — the survivor of all-^ 
could scarcely carry it. 

Then there were rules and regulations for visiting and calls ; 
and they were announced to any young people who might be 
staying in the town, with all the solemnity with which the old 
Manx laws were read once a year on the Tinwald Mount. 

" Our friends have sent to inquire how you are after your 
journey to-night, my dear" (fifteen miles in a gentleman's car- 
riage) ; "they will give you some rest to-morrow, but the next 
day, I have no doubt, they will call ; so be at liberty after twelve 
— from twelve to three are our calling hours." 

Then, after they had called — 

"It is the third day ; I dare say your mamma has told you, 
my dear, never to let more than three days elapse between re- 
ceiving a call and returning it ; and also, that you are never to 
stay longer than a quarter of an hour." 

" But am I to look at my watch? How am I to find out when 
a quarter of an hour has passed ? " 

"You must keep thinking about the time, my dear, and not 
allow vourself to forc^et it in conversation." 



OUR SOCIETY. 9 

As everybody had this rule in their minds, whether they re- 
ceived or paid a call, of course no absorbing subject was ever 
spoken about. We kept ourselves to short sentences of small 
talk, and were punctual to our time. 

I imagine that a few of the gentlefolks of Cranford were poor, 
and had some difficulty in making both ends meet ; but they were 
like the Spartans, and concealed their smart under a smiling face. 
We none of us spoke of money, because that subject savoured of 
commerce and trade, and though some might be poor, we were 
all aristocratic. The Cranfordians had that kindly esprit de 
corps which made them overlook all deficiencies in success when 
some among them tried to conceal their poverty. When Mrs. 
Forr-ester, for instance, gave a party in her baby-house of a 
dwelling, and the httle maiden disturbed tlie ladies on the sofa 
by a request that she might get the tea-tray out from underneath, 
every one took this novel proceeding as the most natural thing 
in the world, and talked on about household forms and cere- 
monies as if we all believed that our hostess had a regular 
servants' hall, second table, with housekeeper and steward, in- 
stead of the one little charity-school maiden, whose short ruddy 
arms could never have been strong enough to carry the tray up- 
stairs, if she had not been assisted in private by her mistress, 
who now sat in state, pretending not to know what cakes were 
sent up, though she knew, and we knew, and she knew that we 
knew, and we knew that she knew that we knew, she had been 
busy all the morning making tea-bread and sponge-cakes. 

There were one or two consequences arising from this general 
but unacknowledged poverty, and this very much acknowledged 
gentility, which were not amiss, and which might be introduced 
into many circles of society to their great improvement. For 
instance, the inhabitants of Cranford kept early hours, and 
clattered home in their pattens, under the guidance of a lantern- 
bearer, about nine o'clock at night ; and the whole town was 
abed and asleep by half-past ten. Moreover, it was considered 
"vulgar" (a tremendous word in Cranford) to give anything 
expensive, in the way of eatable or drinkable, at the evening 
entertainments. Wafer bread-and-butter and sponge-biscuits 
were all that the Honourable Mrs. Jamieson gave ; and she 
was sister-in-law to the late Earl of Glenmire, although she did 
practise such "elegant economy." 

"Elegant economy!" How naturally one falls back into 

A 2 



TO CRANFORD. 

the pliraseology of Cranford ! There, economy was always 
"elegant," and money-spending always "vulgar and cstenta- 
tious ; " a sort of sour-grapeism which made us very peaceful 
and satisfied. I never shall forget the dismay felt when a 
certain Captain Brown came to live at Cranford, and openly 
spoke about his being poor — not in a whisper to an intimate 
friend, the doors and windows being previously closed, but in 
the public street ! in a loud military voice ! alleging his poverty 
as a reason for not taking a particular house. The ladies of 
Cranford were already rather moaning over the invasion of 
their territories by a man and a gentleman. He was a half-pay 
captain, and had obtained some situation on a neighbouring 
railroad, which had been vehemently petitioned against by the 
little town ; and if, in addition to his masculine gender, and his 
connection with the obnoxious railroad, he was so brazen as 
to talk of being poor— why, then, indeed, he must be sent to 
Coventry. Death was as true and as common as poverty ; yet 
people never spoke about that, loud out in the streets. It was 
a word not to be mentioned to ears polite. We had tacitly 
agreed to ignore that any with whom we associated on terms 
of visiting equality could ever be prevented by poverty from 
doing anything that they wished. If he walked to or from a 
party, it was because the night was so fine, or the air so refresh- 
ing, not because sedan-chairs were expensive. If we wore 
prints, instead of summer silks, it was because we preferred 
a washing material ; and so on, till we blinded ourselves to the 
vulgar fact that we were, all of us, people of very moderate 
means. Of course, then, we did not know what to make of 
a man who could speak of poverty as if it was not a disgrace. 
Yet, somehow, Captain Brown made himself respected in 
Cranford, and was called upon, in spite of all resolutions to 
the contrary. I was surprised to hear his opinions quoted as 
authority at a visit which I paid to Cranford about a year after 
he had settled in the town. My own friends had been among 
the bitterest opponents of any proposal to visit the Captain and 
his daughters, only twelve months before ; and now he was 
even admitted in the tabooed hours before twelve. True, it 
was to discover the cause of a smoking chimney, before the fire 
was lighted ; but still Captain Brown walked upstairs, nothing 
daunted, spoke in a voice too large for the room, and joked 
quite in the way of a tame man about the house. He had 



OUR SOCIETY. II 

been blind to all the small slights, and omissions of trivial 
ceremonies, with which he had been received. He had been 
friendly, though the Cranford ladies had been cool ; he had 
answered small sarcastic compliments in good faith ; and with 
his manly frankness had overpowered all the shrinking which 
met him as a man who was not ashamed to be poor. And, at 
last, his excellent masculine common sense, and his facility in 
devising expedients to overcome domestic dilemmas, had gained 
him an extraordinary place as authority among the Cranford 
ladies. He himself went on in his course, as unaware of his 
popularity as he had been of the reverse ; and I am sure he 
was startled one day when he found his advice so highly 
esteemed as to make some counsel which he had given in jest 
to be taken in sober, serious earnest. 

It was on this subject : An old lady had an Alderney cow, 
which she looked upon as a daughter. You could not pay the 
short quarter of an hour call without being told of the wonder- 
ful milk or wonderful intelligence of this animal. The whole 
town knew and kindly regarded Miss Betsy Barker's Alderney ; 
therefore great was the sympathy and regret when, in an un- 
guarded moment, the poor cow tumbled into a lime-pit. She 
moaned so loudly that she was soon heard and rescued ; but 
meanwhile the poor beast had lost most of her hair, and came 
out looking naked, cold, and miserable, in a bare skin. Every- 
body pitied the animal, though a few could not restrain their 
smiles at her droll appearance. Miss Betsy Barker absolutely 
cried with sorrow and dismay ; and it was said she thought of 
trying a bath of oil. This remedy, perhaps, was recommended 
by some .one of the number whose advice she asked ; but the 
proposal, if ever it was made, was knocked on the head by 
Captain Brown's decided "Get her a flannel waistcoat and 
flannel drawers, ma'am, if you wish to keep her alive. But my 
advice is, kill the poor creature at once." 

Miss Betsy Barker dried her eyes, and thanked the Captnin 
heartily ; she set to work, and by-and-by all the town turned 
out to see the Alderney meekly going to her pasture, clad in 
dark grey flannel. I have watched her myself many a time. 
Do you ever see cows dressed in grey flannel in London ? 

Captain Brown had taken a small house on the outskirts of 
the town, where he lived with his two daughters. He must 
have been upwards of sixty at the time of the first visit I paid 



12 CR AN FORD, 

to Cranford after I had left it as a residence. But he had a 
wiry, well-trained, elastic figure, a stiff military throw-back of 
his head, and a springing step, which made him appear much 
younger than he was. His eldest daughter looked almost as 
old as himself, and betrayed the fact that his real was more 
than his apparent age. Miss Brown must have been forty ; she 
had a sickly, pained, careworn expression on her face, and 
looked as if the gaiety of youth had long faded out of sight. 
Even when young she must have been plain and hard-featured. 
Miss Jessie Brown was ten years younger than her sister, and 
twenty shades prettier. Her face was round and dimpled. 
Miss Jenkyns once said, in a passion against Captain Brown 
(the cause of which I will tell you presently), " that she thought 
it was time for Miss Jessie to leave off her dimples, and not 
always to be trying to look like a child." It was true there 
was something childlike in her face ; and there will be, I think, 
till she dies, though she should live to a hundred. Her eyes 
were large blue wondering eyes, looking straight at you ; her 
nose was unformed and snub, and her lips were red and dewy ; 
she wore her hair, too, in little rows of curls, which heightened 
this appearance. I do not know whether she was pretty or 
not ; but I liked her face, and so did everybody, and I do 
not think she could help her dimples. She had something 
of her father's jauntiness of gait and manner ; and any female 
observer might detect a slight difference in the attire of the 
two sisters — that of Miss Jessie being about two pounds per 
annum more expensive than Miss Brown's. Two pounds was 
a large sum in Captain Brown's annual disbursements. 

Such was the impression made upon me by the Brown family 
when I first saw them all together in Cranford Church. The 
Captain I had met before — on the occasion of the smoky 
chimney, which he had cured by some simple alteration in 
the flue. In church, he held his double eye-glass to his eyes 
during the Morning Hymn, and then lifted up his head erect 
and sang out loud and joyfully. He made the responses louder 
than the clerk — an old man with a piping feeble voice, who, 
I think, felt aggrieved at the Captain's sonorous bass, and 
quavered higher and higher in consequence. 

On coming out of church, the brisk Captain paid the most 
gallant attention to his two daughters. He nodded and smiled 
to his acquaintances ; but hs shook hands with none until he 



OUR SOCIETY. 13 

had helped Miss Brown to unfurl her umbrella, had relieved 
her of her prayer-book, and had waited patiently till she, with 
trembling nervous hands, had taken up her gown to walk 
through the wet roads. 

I wondered what the Cranford ladies did with Captain Brown 
at their parties. We had often rejoiced, in former days, that 
there was no gentleman to be attended to, and to find conversa- 
tion for, at the card-parties. We had congratulated ourselves 
upon the snugness of the evenings ; and, in our love for 
gentility, and distaste of mankind, we had almost persuaded 
ourselves that to be a man was to be "vulgar ; " so that when 
I found my friend and hostess. Miss Jenkyns, was going to 
have a party in my honour, and that Captain and the Miss 
Browns were invited, I wondered much what would be the 
course of the evening. Card-tables, with green baize tops, 
were set out by daylight, just as usual ; it was the third week 
in November, so the evenings closed in about four. Candles, 
and clean packs of cards were arranged on each table. The 
fire was made up ; the neat maid-servant had received her last 
directions ; and there we stood, dressed in our best, each with a 
candle-lighter in our hands, ready to dart at the candles as soon 
as the first knock came. Parties in Cranford were solemn 
festivities, making the ladies feel gravely elated as they sat 
together in their best dresses. As soon as three had arrived, 
we sat down to ** Preference," I being the unlucky fourth. 
The next four comers were put down immediately to another 
table ; and presently the tea-trays, which I had seen set ou 
in the store-room as I passed in the morning, were placed each 
on the middle of a card-table. The china was delicate egg- 
shell ; the old-fashioned silver glittered with polishing ; but the 
eatables were of the slightest description. While the trays were 
yet on the tables, Captain and the Miss Browns came in ; and 
I could see that, somehow or other, the Captain was a favourite 
with all the ladies present. Ruffled brows were smoothed, 
sharp voices lowered at his approach. Miss Brown looked ill, 
and depressed almost to gloom. Miss Jessie smiled as usual, 
and seemed nearly as popular as her father. He immediately 
and quietly assumed the man's place in the room ; attended to 
every one's wants, lessened the pretty maid-servant's labour by 
waiting on empty cups and bread-and-butterless ladies ; and 
yet did it all in so easy and dignified a manner, and so much as 



14 CRANFORD. 

if it were a matter of course for the strong to attend to the 
weak, that he was a true man throughout. He played for 
threepenny points with as grave an interest as if they had been 
pounds ; and yet, in all his attention to strangers, he had an 
eye on his suffering daughter — for suffering I was sure she was, 
though to many eyes she might only appear to be irritable. 
Miss Jessie could not play cards : but she talked to the sitters- 
out, who, before her coming, had been rather inclined to be 
cross. She sang, too, to an old cracked piano, which I think 
had been a spinet in its youth. Miss Jessie sang "Jock of 
Hazeldean " a little out of tune ; but we were none of us 
musical, though Miss Jenkyns beat time, out of time, by way of 
appearing to be so. 

It was very good of Miss Jenkyns to do this ; for I had seen 
that, a little before, she had been a good deal annoyed by Miss 
Jessie Brown's unguarded admission {a propos of Shetland wool) 
that she had an uncle, her mother's brother, who was a shop- 
keeper in Edinburgh. Miss Jenkyns tried to drown this con- 
fession by a terrible cough — for the Honourable Mrs. Jamieson 
was sitting at the card-table nearest Miss Jessie, and what 
would she say or think if she found out she was in the same 
room with a shopkeeper's niece ! But Miss Jessie Brown (who 
had no tact, as we all agreed the next morning) would repeat 
the information, and assure Miss Pole she could easily get her 
the identical Shetland wool required, "through my uncle, who 
has the best assortment of Shetland goods of any one in 
Edinbro'." It was to take the taste of this out of our mouths, 
and the sound of this out of our ears, that Miss Jenkyns pro- 
posed music ; so I say again, it was very good of her to beat 
time to the song. 

When the trays re-appeared with biscuits and wine, punctu- 
ally at a quarter to nine, there was conversation, comparing of 
cards, and talking over tricks ; but by-and-by Captain Brown 
sported a bit of literature. 

•' Have you seen any numbers of ' The Pickwick Papers ' ?" 
said he. (They were then publishing in parts.) " Capital thing 1 " 

Now Miss Jenkyns was daughter of a deceased rector of 
Cranford ; and, on the strength of a number of manuscript 
sermons, and a pretty good library of divinity, considered 
herself literary, and looked upon any conversation about 
books as a challenge to her. So she answered and said> 



OUR SOCIETY. 15; 

" Yes, she had seen them ; indeed, she might say she had read 
them." 

"And what do you think of them?" exclaimed Captain 
Brown. " Aren't they famously good ? " 

So urged. Miss Jenkyns could not but speak. 

" I must say, I don't think they are by any means equal to 
Dr. Johnson. Still, perhaps, the author is young. Let him 
persevere, and who knows what he may become if he will take 
the great Doctor for his model ? " This was evidently too much 
for Captain Brown to take placidly ; and I saw the words on 
the tip of his tongue before Miss Jenkyns had finished her 
sentence. 

"It is quite a different sort of thing, my dear madam," he 
began. 

"I am quite aware of that," returned she. "And I make 
allowances. Captain Brown." 

"Just allow me to read you a scene out of this month's 
number," pleaded he. "I had it only this morning, and I don't 
think the company can have read it yet." 

"As you please," said she, settling herself with an air of 
resignation. He read the account of the " swarry " which Sam 
Weller gave at Bath. Some of us laughed heartily. / did not 
dare, because I was staying in the house. Miss Jenkyns sat in 
patient gravity. When it was ended, she turned to me, and 
•said with mild dignity — 

" Fetch me * Rasselas,' my dear, out of the book-room." 

When I brought it to her, she turned to Captain Brown — 

" Now allow 7ne to read you a scene, and then the present 
company can judge between your favourite, Mr. Boz, and Dr. 
Johnson." 

She read one of the conversations between Rasselas and 
Imlac, in a high-pitched majestic voice : and when she had 
ended, she said, " I imagine I am now justified in my preference 
of Dr. Johnson as a writer of fiction." The Captain screwed 
his lips up, and drummed on the table, but he did not speak. 
She thought she would give a finishing blow or two. 

" I consider it vulgar, and below the dignity of literature, to 
publish in numbers." 

" How was the Rambler published, ma'am ?" asked Captain 
Brown in a low voice, which I think Miss Jenkyns could not. 
have heard. 



l6 CRANFORD. 

" Dr. Johnson's style is a model for young beginners. My 
father recommended it to me when I began to write letters — 
I have formed my own style upon it ; I recommend it to your 
favourite." 

' ' I should be very sorry for him to exchange his style for any 
such pompous writing," said Captain Brown. 

Miss Jenkyns felt this as a personal affront, in a way of which 
the Captain had not dreamed. Epistolary writing she and her 
friends considered as her forte. Many a copy of many a letter 
have I seen written and corrected on the slate, before she 
" seized the half-hour just previous to post-time to assure" her 
friends of this or of that ; and Dr. Johnson was, as she 
said, her model in these compositions. She drew herself up 
with dignity, and only replied to Captain Brown's last remark 
by saying, with marked emphasis on every syllable, "1 prefer 
Dr. Johnson to Mr. Boz." 

It is said — I won't vouch for the fact — that Captain Brown 
was heard to say, sotfo voce, " D — n Dr. Johnson ! " If he did, 
he was penitent afterwards, as he showed by going to stand 
near Miss Jenkyns's arm-chair, and endeavouring to beguile her 
into conversation on some more pleasing subject. But she was 
inexorable. The next day she made the remark I have men- 
tioned about Miss Jessie's dimples. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE CAPTAIN. 

It was impossible to Hve a month at Cranfard and not know 
the daily habits of each resident ; and long before my visit was 
ended I knew much concerning the whole Brown trio. There 
was nothing new to be discovered respecting their poverty ; for 
they had spoken simply and openly about that from the very first. 
They made no mystery of the necessity for their being economical. 
All that remained to be discovered was the Captain's infinite 
Idndness of heart, and the various rpodes in which, unconsciously 
to himself, he manifested it. Some little anecdotes were talked 
about for some time after they occurred. As we did not read 



THE CAPTAIN. 1 7 

much, and as all the ladies were pretty well suited with servants, 
there was a dearth of subjects for conversation. We therefore 
discussed the circumstance of the Captain taking a poor old 
woman's dinner out of her hands one very slippery Sunday. 
He had met her returning from the bakehouse as he came from 
church, and noticed her precarious footing ; and, with the grave 
dignity with which he did everything, he relieved her of her 
burden, and steered along the street by her side, carrying her 
baked mutton and potatoes safely home. This was thought 
very eccentric ; and it was rather expected that he would pay a 
round of calls, on the Monday morning, to explain and apolo- 
gise to the Cranford sense of propriety : but he did no such 
thing : and then it was decided that he was ashamed, and was 
keeping out of sight. In a kindly pity for him, we began to 
say, " After all, the Sunday morning's occurrence showed great 
goodness of heart, and it was resolved that he should be com- 
forted on his next appearance amongst us ; but, lo ! he came 
down upon us, untouched by any sense of shame, speaking loud 
and bass as ever, his head thrown back, his wig as jaunty and 
well-curled as usual, and we were obliged to conclude he had 
forgotten all about Sunday. 

Miss Pole and Miss Jessie Brown had set up a kind of inti- 
macy on the strength of the Shetland wool and the new knitting 
stitches ; so it happened that when I went to visit Miss Pole I 
saw more of the Browns than I had done while staying with 
Miss Jenkyns, who had never got over what she called Captain 
Brown's disparaging remarks upon Dr. Jolmson as a writer of 
light and agreeable fiction. I found that Miss Brown was 
seriously ill of some lingering, incurable complaint, the pain 
occasioned by which gave the uneasy expression to her face that 
I had taken for unmitigated crossness. Cross, too, she was at 
times, when the nervous irritability occasioned by her disease 
became past endurance. Miss Jessie bore with her at these 
times, even more patiently than she did with the bitter self- 
upbraidings by which they were invariably succeeded. Miss 
Brown used to accuse herself, not merely of hasty and irritable 
temper, but also of being the cause why her father and sister 
were obliged to pinch, in order to allow her the small luxuries 
which were necessaries in her condition. She would so fain 
have made sacrifices for them, and have lightened their cares, 
that the original generosity of her disposition added acerbity 



l8 CRANFORD. 

to her temper. All this was borne by Miss Jessie and her father 
with more than placidity — with absolute tenderness. I forgave 
JVIiss Jessie her singing out of tune, and her juvenility of dress, 
v.hen 1 saw her at home. I came to perceive that Captain 
Brown's dark Brutus wig and padded coat (alas ! too often 
threadbare) were remnants of the military smartness of his 
youth, which he now wore unconsciously. He was a man of 
infinite resources, gained in his barrack experience. As he con- 
fessed, no one could black his boots to please him except him- 
self; but, indeed, he was not above saving the little maid- 
servant's labours in every way — knowing, most likely, that his 
daughter's illness made the place a hard one. 

He endeavoured to make peace with Miss Jenkyns soon after 
the memorable dispute I have named, by a present of a wooden 
fire-shovel (his own making), having heard her say how much 
the grating of an iron one annoyed her. She received the pre- 
sent with cool gratitude, and thanked him formally. When he 
was gone, she bade me put it away in the lumber-room ; feeling, 
probably, that no present from a man who preferred Mr. Boz to 
Dr. Johnson could be less jarring than an iron fire-shovel. 

Such was the state of things when I left Cranford and went to 
Drumble. I had, however, several correspondents, who kept me 
aufait as to the proceedings of the dear httle town. There was 
Miss Pole, who was becoming as much absorbed in crochet as 
she had been once in knitting, and the burden of whose letter 
was something like, " But don't you forget the white worsted at 
Flint's" of the old song; for at the end of every sentence of 
news came a fresh direction as to some crochet commission which 
I was to execute for her. Miss Matilda Jenkyns (who did not 
mind being called Miss Matty, when Miss Jenkyns was not by) 
wrote nice, kind, rambling letters, now and then venturing into 
an opinion of her own ; but suddenly pulling herself up, and 
either begging me not to name what she had said, as Deborah 
thought differently, and she knew, or else putting in a postscript 
to the effect that, since writing the above, she had been talking 
over the subject with Deborah, and was quite convinced that, &c. 
— (here probably followed a recantation of every opinion she had 
given in the letter). Then came Miss Jenkyns — DebSrah, as she 
liked Miss Matty to call her, her father having once said that 
the Hebrew name ought to be so pronounced. I secretly think 
she took the Hebrew prophetess for a model in character ; and. 



THE CAPTAIN. 1 9 

indeed, she was not unlike the stern prophetess in some ways, 
making allowance, of course, for modern customs and difference 
in dress. Miss Jenkyns wore a cravat, and a little bonnet like 
a jockey-cap, and altogether had the appearance of a strong- 
minded woman ; although she would have despised the modern 
idea of women being equal to men. Equal, indeed ! she knew 
they were superior. But to return to her letters. Everything 
in them was stately and grand like herself. I have been look- 
ing them over (dear Miss Jenkyns, how I honoured her !), and I 
will give an extract, more especially because it relates to our 
friend Captain Brown : — 

"The Honourable Mrs. Jamieson has only just quitted me; 
and, in the course of conversation, she communicated to me the 
intelligence that she had yesterday received a call from her 
revered husband's quondam friend, Lord Mauleverer. You will 
not easily conjecture what brought his lordship within the pre- 
cincts of our little town. It was to see Captain Brown, with 
whom, it appears, his lordship was acquainted in the 'plumed 
wars,' and who had the privilege of averting destruction from 
bis lordship's head when some great peril was impending over 
it, off the misnomered Cape of Good Hope. You know our 
friend the Honourable Mrs. Jamieson's deficiency in the spirit 
, of innocent curiosity ; and you will therefore not be so much 
surprised when I tell you she was quite unable to disclose to me 
the exact nature of the peril in question. I was anxious, I con- 
fess, to ascertain in what manner Captain Brown, with his limited 
establishment, could receive so distinguished a guest ; and I dis- 
covered that his lordship retired to rest, and, let us hope, to 
refreshing slumbers, at the Angel Hotel ; but shared the Bruno- 
nian meals during the two days that he honoured Cranford with 
his august presence. Mrs. Johnson, our civil butcher's wife, 
informs me that Miss Jessie purchased a leg of lamb ; but, 
besides this, I can hear of no preparation whatever to give a 
suitable reception to so distinguished a visitor. Perhaps they 
entertained him with ' the feast of reason and the flow of soul ; ' 
a-nd to us, who are acquainted with Captain Brown's sad want 
of rehsh for * the pure wells of English undefiled,' it may be 
matter for congratulation that he has had the opportunity of 
improving his taste by holding converse with an elegant and 
refined member of the British aristocracy. But from some 
mundane failino-s who is altocrether free?" 



20 CRANFORD. 

Miss Pole and Miss Matty wrote to nie b}' the same post. 
Such a piece of news as Lord Mauleverer's visit was not to be 
lost on the Cranford letter-writers : they made the most of it. 
Miss Matty humbly apologised for writing at the same time as 
her sister, who was so much more capable than she to describe 
the honour done to Cranford ; but in spite of a little bad spelling, 
]\liss Matty's account gave me the best idea of the commotion 
occasioned by his lordship's visit, after it had occurred ; for, 
except the people at the Angel, the Browns, Mrs. Jamieson, and 
a little lad his lordship had sworn at for driving a dirty hoop 
against the aristocratic legs, I could not hear of any one with 
whom his lordship had held conversation. 

My next visit to Cranford was in the summer. There had 
been neither births, deaths, nor marriages since I was there last. 
Everybody lived in the same house, and wore pretty nearly the 
same well-preserved, old-fashioned clothes. The greatest event 
was, that Miss Jenkynses had purchased a new carpet for the 
drawing-room. Oh the busy work Miss Matty and I had in 
chasing the sunbeams, as they fell in an afternoon right down 
on this carpet through the blindless window ! We spread 
newspapers over the places, and sat down to our book or our 
work ; and, lo ! in a quarter of an hour the sun had moved, 
and was blazing away on a fresh spot ; and down again we went 
on our knees to alter the position of the newspapers. We were 
very busy, too, one whole morning, before Miss Jenkyns gave 
her party, in following her directions, and in cutting out and 
stitching together pieces of newspaper so as to form little paths 
to every chair set for the expected visitors, lest their shoes might 
dirty or defile the purity of the carpet. Do you make papei 
paths for every guest to walk upon in London ? 

Captain Brown and Miss Jenkyns were not very cordial to 
each other. The literary dispute, of which I had seen the 
beginning, was a " raw," the slightest touch on which made 
them wince. It was the only difference of opinion they had 
ever had ; but that difference was enough. Miss Jenkyns could 
not refrain from talking at Captain Brown ; and, though he did 
not reply, he drummed with his fingers, which action she felt 
and resented as very disparaging to Dr. Johnson. He was rather 
ostentatious in his preference of the writings of Mr. Boz ; would 
walk through the streets so absorbed in them that he all but ran 
against Miss Jenkyns ; and though his apologies were earnest 



THE CAPTAIN. 21 

and sincere, and though he did not, in fact, do more than startle 
her and himself, she owned to me she had rather he had knocked 
her down, if he had only been reading a higher style of litera- 
ture. The poor, brave Captain ! he looked older, and more 
worn, and his clothes were very threadbare. But he seemed 
as bright and clieerful as ever, unless he was asked about his 
daughter's health. 

" She suffers a great deal, and she must suffer more : we do 
what we can to alleviate her pain ; — God's will be done ! " He 
took off his hat at these last words. I found, from Miss Matty, 
that everything had been done, in fact. A medical man, of 
high repute in that country neighbourhood, had been sent for, 
and every injunction he had given was attended to, regardless 
of expense. Miss Matty was sure they denied themselves many 
things in order to make the invalid comfortable ; but they never 
spoke about it ; and as for Miss Jessie ! — " I really think she's 
an angel," said poor Miss Matty, quite overcome. "To see 
her way of bearing' with Miss Brown's crossness, and the bright 
face she puts on after she's been sitting up a whole night and 
scolded above half of it, is quite beautiful. Yet she looks as 
neat and as ready to welcome the Captain at breakfast-time as 
if she had been asleep in the Queen's bed all night. My dear ! 
you could never laugh at her prim little curls or her pink bows 
^igain if you saw her as I have done." I could only feel very 
penitent, and greet Miss Jessie with double respect when I met 
her next. She looked faded and pinched ; and her lips began 
to quiver, as if she was very weak, when she spoke of her sister. 
But she brightened, and sent back the tears that were glittering 
in her pretty eyes, as she said — 

" But, to be sure, what a town Cranford is for kindness ! I 
don't suppose any one has a better dinner than usual cooked 
but the best part of all comes in a little covered basin for my 
sister. The poor people will leave their earliest vegetables at 
our door for her. They speak short and gruff, as if they were 
ashamed of it : but I am sure it often goes to my heart to see 
their thoughtfulness." The tears now came back and over- 
flowed ; but after a minute or two she began to scold herself, 
and ended by going away the same cheerful Miss Jessie as ever. 

" But why does not this Lord Mauleverer do something for 
the man who saved his life?" said I. 

" Why, you see, unless Captain Brown has some reason for it, 



22 CRANFORD. 

he never speaks about being poor ; and he walked along by his 
lordship looking as happy and cheerful as a prince ; and as they 
never called attention to their dinner by apologies, and as Miss 
Brown was better that day, and all seemed bright, I dare say his 
lordship never knew how much care there Vv^as in the back- 
ground. He did send game in the winter pretty often, but now 
he is gone abroad." 

I had often occasion to notice the use that was made of frag- 
ments and small opportunities in Cranford ; the rose-leaves that 
were gathered ere they fell to make into a pot-pourri for some one 
who had no garden ; the little bundles of lavender flowers sent to 
strew the drawers of some town-dweller, or to burn in the chamber 
of some invalid. Things that many would despise, and actions 
which it seemed scarcely worth while to perform, were all attended 
to in Cranford. Miss Jenkyns stuck an apple full of cloves, to be 
heated and smell pleasantly in Miss Brown's room ; and as she 
put in each clove she uttered a Johnsonian sentence. Indeed, 
she never could think of the Browns without talking Johnson ; 
and, as they were seldom absent from her thoughts just then, I 
heard many a rolling, three-piled sentence. 

Captain Brown called one day to thank Miss Jenkyns for 
many little kindnesses, which I did not know until then that she 
had rendered. He had suddenly become like an old man ; his 
deep bass voice had a quavering in it, his eyes looked dim, and 
the lines on his face were deep. He did not — could not — speak 
cheerfully of his daughter's state, but he talked with manly, 
pious resignation, and not much. Twice over he said, "What 
Jessie has been to us, God only knows ! " and after the second 
time, he got up hastily, shook hands all round without speaking, 
and left the room. 

That afternoon we perceived little groups in the street, all 
listening with faces aghast to some tale or other. Miss Jenkyns 
wondered what could be the matter for some time before she 
took the undignified step of sending Jenny out to inquire. 

Jenny came back with a white face of terror. "Oh, ma'am ! 
oh, Miss Jenkyns, ma'am ! Captain Brown is killed by them 
nasty cruel railroads!" and she burst into tears. She, along 
with many others, had experienced the poor Captain's kind- 
ness. 

"How? — where — where? Good God! Jenny, don't waste 
time in crying, but tell us something." Miss Matty rushed out 



^ THE CAPTAIN. 23 

into the street at once, and collared the man who was telling 
the tale. 

"Come in — come to my sister at once, Miss Jenkyns, the 
rector's daughter. Oh, man, man ! say it is not true," she 
cried, as she brought the affrighted carter, sleeking down his 
hair, into the drawing-room, where he stood with his wet boots 
on the new carpet, and no one regarded it. 

" Please, mum, it is true. I seed it myself," and he shuddered 
at the recollection. "The Captain was a-reading some new 
book as he was deep in, a-waiting for the down train; and 
there was a httle lass as wanted to come to its mammy, and 
gave its sister the slip, and came toddling across the line. 
And he looked up sudden, at the sound of the train coming, 
and seed the child, and he darted on the line and cotched it up, 
and his foot slipped, and the train came over him in no time. 
O Lord, Lord ! Mum, it's quite true — and they've come over 
to tell his daughters. The child's safe, though, with only a 
bang on its shoulder as he threw it to its mammy. Poor 
Captain would be glad of that, mum, wouldn't he? God bles3 
him ! " The great rough carter puckered up his manly face, 
and turned away to hide his tears. I turned to Miss Jenkyns. 
She looked very ill, as if she were going to faint, and signed to 
me to open the window. 

"Matilda, bring me my bonnet. I must go to those girls. 
God pardon me, if ever I have spoken contemptuously to the 
Captain I " 

Miss Jenkyns arrayed herself to go out, telling Miss Matilda 
to give the man a glass of wine. While she was away. Miss 
Matty and I huddled over the fire, talking in a low and awe- 
struck voice. I know we cried quietly all the time. 

Miss Jenkyns came home in a silent mood, and we durst not 
ask her many questions. She told us that Miss Jessie had 
fainted, and that she and Miss Pole had had some difficulty in 
bringing her round ; but that, as soon as she recovered, she 
begged one of them to go and sit with her sister. 

" Mr. Hoggins says she cannot live many days, and she shall 
be spared this shock," said Miss Jessie, shivering with feelings 
to which she dared not give way. 

" But how can you manage, ray dear?" asked Miss Jenkyns ; 
"you cannot bear up, she must see your tears." 

"God will help me — I will not give way — she was asleep 



24 CRANFORD. i 

when the news came ; she may be asleep yet. She would be 
so utterly miserable, not merely at my father's death, but to 
think of what would become of me ; she is so good to me." 
She looked up earnestly in their faces with her soft true eyes, 
and Miss Pole told Miss Jenkyns afterwards she could hardly 
bear it, knowing, as she did, how Miss Brown treated her sister. 

However, it was settled according to Miss Jessie's wish. Miss 
Brown was to be told her father had been summoned to take a 
short journey on railway business. They had managed it in 
some way — Miss Jenkyns could not exactly say how. Miss 
Pole was to stop with Miss Jessie. Mrs. Jamieson had sent to 
inquire. And this was all we heard that night ; and a sorrow- 
ful night it was. The next day a full account of the fatal 
accident was in the county paper which Miss Jenkyns took in. 
Her eyes were very weak, she said, and she asked me to read it. 
When I came to the "gallant gentleman was deeply engaged 
in the perusal of a number of 'Pickwick,' which he had just 
received," Miss Jenkyns shook her head long and solemnly, 
and then sighed out, '' Poor, dear, infatuated man ! " 

The corpse was to be taken from the station to the parish 
church, there to be interred. Miss Jessie had set her heart on 
following it to the grave ; and no dissuasives could alter her 
resolve. Her restraint upon herself made her almost obstinate ; 
she resisted all Miss Pole's entreaties and Miss Jenkyns's advice. 
At last Miss Jenkyns gave up the point ; and after a silence, 
which I feared portended some deep displeasure against Miss 
Jessie, Miss Jenkyns said she should accompany the latter to 
tlie funeral. 

" It is not fit for you to go alone. It would be against both 
propriety and humanity were I to allow it." 

Miss Jessie seemed as if she did not half like this arrange- 
ment ; but her obstinacy, if she had any, had been exhausted 
in her determination to go to the interment. She longed, poor 
thing, I have no doubt, to cry alone over the grave of the dear 
father to whom she had been all in all, and to give way, for 
one little half-hour, uninterrupted by sympathy and unobserved 
by friendship. But it was not to be. That afternoon Miss 
Jenkyns sent out for a yard of black crape, and employed 
herself busily in trimming the little black silk bonnet I have 
spoken about. When it was finished she put it on, and looked 
at us for approbation — admiration she despised. I was full of 



THE CAPTAIN. 25 

sorrow, but, by one of those whimsical thoughts which come 
unbidden into our heads, in times of deepest grief, I no sooner 
saw the bonnet than I was reminded of a hehnet ; and in that 
hybrid bonnet, half helmet, half jockey-cap, did Miss Jenkyns 
attend Captain Brown's funeral, and, I believe, supported Miss 
Jessie with a tender, indulgent firmness which was invaluable, 
allowing her to weep her passionate fill before they left. 

Miss Pole, Miss% Matty, and I, meanwhile attended to Miss 
Brown : and hard work we found it to relieve her querulous and 
never-ending complaints. But if we were so weary and dis- 
pirited, what must Miss Jessie have been ! Yet she came back 
almost calm, as if she had gained a new strength. She put off her 
mourning dress, and came in, looking pale and gentle, thank- 
ing us each with a soft long pressure of the hand. She could 
even smile — a faint, sweet, wintry smile — as if to reassure us of 
her power to endure ; but her look made our eyes fill suddenly 
with tears, more than if she had cried outright. 

It was settled that Miss Pole was to remain with her all the 
watching livelong night ; and that Miss Matty and I were to 
return in the morning to relieve them, and give Miss Jessie the 
opportunity for a few hours of sleep. But when the morning 
came. Miss Jenkyns appeared at the breakfast-table, equipped 
in her helmet-bonnet, and ordered Miss Matty to stay at home, 
as she meant to go and help to nurse. She was evidently in a 
state of great friendly excitement, which she showed by eating 
her breakfast standing, and scolding the household all round. 

No nursing — no energetic strong-minded woman could help 
Miss Brown now. There was that in the room as we entered 
which was stronger than us all, and made us shrink into solemn 
awestruck .helplessness. Miss Brown was dying. We hardly 
knew her voice, it was so devoid of the complaining tone we 
had always associated with it. Miss Jessie told me afterwards 
that it, and her face too, were just what they had been formerly, 
when her mother's death left her the young anxious head of the 
family, of whom only Miss Jessie survived. 

She was conscious of her sister's presence, though not, I 
think, of ours. We stood a little behind the curtain : Miss 
Jessie knelt with her face near her sister's, in order to catch 
the last soft awful whispers. 

"Oh, Jessie ! Jessie ! How selfish I have been ! God forgive 
me for letting you sacrifice yourself for me as you did ! I have 



26 CRANFORD. 

so loved you — and yet I have thought only of myself. God 
forgive me ! " 

" Hush, love ! hush ! " said Miss Jessie, sobbing. 

"And my father! my dear, dear father ! I will not complain 
now, if God will give me strength to be patient. But, oh, 
Jessie ! tell my father how I longed and yearned to see him at 
last, and to ask his forgiveness. He can never know now how 
I loved him — oh ! if I might but tell him, before I die ! What 
a life of sorrow his has been, and I have done so little to cheer 
him ! " 

A light came into Miss Jessie's face. "Would it comfort 
you, dearest, to think that he does know? — would it comfort 

you, love, to know that his cares, his sorrows" • Her voice 

quivered, but she steadied it into calmness — "Mary! he has 
gone before you to the place where the weary are at rest. He 
knows now how you loved him." 

A strange look, which was not distress, came over Miss 
Brown's face. She did not speak for some time, but then we 
saw her lips form the words, rather than heard the sound — • 
"Father, mother, Harry, Archy ; " — then, as if it were a new 
idea thro.ving a filmy shadow over her darkened mind — "But 
you will be alone, Jessie ! " 

Miss Jessie had been feeling this all during the silence, I 
think ; for the tears rolled down her cheeks like rain, at these 
words, and she could not answer at first. Then she put her 
hands together tight, and lifted them up, and said — but not to us — 

" Though He slay m.e, yet will I trust in Him." 

In a few moments more Miss Brown lay calm and still — ■ 
never to sorrow or murmur more. 

After this second funeral. Miss Jenkyns insisted that Miss 
Jessie should come to stay with her rather than go back to the 
desolate house, which, in fact, we learned from Miss Jessie, 
must now be given up, as she had not wherewithal to maintain 
it. She had something above twenty pounds a year, besides 
the interest of the money for which the furniture would sell ; 
but she could not live upon that : and so we talked over her 
qualifications for earning money. 

"I can sew neatly," said she, "and I like nursing. I think, 
too, I could manag«e a house, if any one would try me as house- 
keeper ; or I would go into a shop, as saleswoman, if they 
would have patience with me at first." 



THE CAPTAIN. 27 

Miss Jenkyns declared, in an angry voice, that she should do 
no such thing; and talked to herself about "some people 
having no idea of their rank as a captain's daughter," nearly 
an hour afterwards, when she brought Miss Jessie up a basin of 
delicately-made arrowroot, and stood over her like a dragoon 
until the last spoonful was finished : then she disappeared. 
Miss Jessie began to tell me some more of the plans which had 
suggested themselves to her, and insensibly fell into talking of 
the days that were past and gone, and interested me so much I 
neither knew nor heeded how time passed. We were both 
startled when Miss Jenkyns reappeared, and caught us crying. 
I was afraid lest she would be displeased, as she often said that 
crying hindered digestion, and I knew she wanted Miss Jessie 
to get strong ; but, instead, she looked queer and excited, and 
fidgeted round us without saying anything. At last she spoke. 

"I have been so much startled — no, I've not been at all 
startled — don't mind me, my dear Miss Jessie— I've been very 
, much surprised — in fact, I've had a caller, whom you knew 
ojice, my dear Miss Jessie " 

Miss Jessie went very white, then flushed scarlet, and looked 
eagerly at Miss Jenkyns. 

"A gentleman, my dear, who wants to know if you would 
see him." 

"Is it? — it is not" — stammered out Miss Jessie — and got no 
fiirther. 

"This is his card," said Miss Jenkyns, giving it to Miss 
Jessie ; and while her head was bent over it. Miss Jenkyns went 
through a series of winks and odd faces to me, and formed her 
lips into a long sentence, of which, of course, I could not under- 
stand a word. 

" May he come up?" asked Miss Jenkyns, at last. 

"Oh, yes! certainly!" said Miss Jessie, as much as to say, 
this is your house, you may show any visitor where you like. 
She took up some knitting of Miss Matty's and began to be very 
busy, though I could see how she trembled all over. 

Miss Jenkyns rang the bell, and told the servant who answered 
it to show Major Gordon upstairs ; and, presently, in walked 
a tall, fine, frank-looking man of forty or upwards. He shook 
hands with Miss Jessie ; but he could not see her eyes, she 
kept them so fixed on the ground. Miss Jenkyns asked me if 
I would come and help her to tie up the preserves in the store- 



28 CRANFORD. 

room ; and, though Miss Jessie plucked at my gown, and even 
looked up at me with begging eye, I durst not refuse to go 
where Miss Jenkyns asked. Instead of tying up preserves in 
the store-room, however, we went to talk in the dining-room ; 
and there Miss Jenkyns told me what Major Gordon had told 
her ; how he had served in the same regiment with Captain 
Brown, and had become acquainted with Miss Jessie, then a 
sweet-looking, blooming girl of eighteen ; how the acquaintance 
had grown into love on his part, though it had been some years 
before he had spoken ; how, on becoming possessed, through 
the will of an uncle, of a good estate in Scotland, he had offered 
and been refused, though with so much agitation and evident 
distress that he was sure she was not indifferent to him ; and 
how he had discovered that the obstacle was the fell disease 
which was, even then, too surely threatening her sister. She 
had mentioned that the surgeons foretold intense suffering ; and 
there was no one but herself to nurse her poor Mary, or cheer 
and comfort her father during the time of illness. They had 
had long discussions ; and on her refusal to pledge herself to 
him as his wife when all should be over, he had grown angry, 
and broken off entirely, and gone abroad, believing that she was 
a cold-hearted person whom he would do well to forget. He 
had been travelling in the East, and was on his return home 
when, at Rome, he saw the account of Captain Brown's death 
in Galignani. 

Just then Miss Matty, who had been out all the morning, and 
had only lately returned to the house, burst in with a face of 
dismay and outraged propriety. 

" Oh, goodness me ! " she said. " Deborah, there's a gentle- 
man sitting in the drawing-room with his arm round Miss 
Jessie's waist ! " Miss Matty's eyes looked large with terror. 

Miss Jenkyns snubbed her down in an instant. 

"The most proper place in the world for his arm to be in. 
Go away, Matilda, and mind your own business." This from 
her sister, who had hitherto been a model of feminine decorum, 
was a blow for poor Miss Matty, and with a double shock she 
left the room. 

The last time I ever saw poor Miss Jenkyns was many years 
after this. Mrs. Gordon had kept up a warm and affectionate 
intercourse with all at Cranford. Miss Jenkyns, Miss Matty, 
and Miss Pole had all been to visit her, and returned with 



A LOVE AFFAIR OF LONG AGO. 29 

wonderful accounts of her house, her husband, her dress, and 
her looks. For, with happiness, something of her early bloom 
returned ; she had been a year or two younger than we had 
taken her for. Her eyes were always lovely, and, as Mrs. 
Gordon, her dimples were not out of place. At the time to 
which I have referred, when I last saw Miss Jenkyns, that lady 
was old and feeble, and had lost something of her strong mind. 
Little Flora Gordon was staying with the Misses Jenkyns, and 
when I came in she was reading aloud to Miss Jenkyns, who 
lay feeble and changed on the sofa. Flora put down the 
Rambler when I came in. 

" Ah ! " said Miss Jenkyns, " you find me changed, my dear. 
I can't see as I used to do. If Flora were not here to read to 
me, I hardly know how I should get through the day. Did you 
ever read the Rambler f It's a wonderful book — wonderful ! 
and the most improving reading for Flora" (which I dare say it 
would have been, if she could have read half the words without 
spelling, and could have understood the meaning of a third), 
"better than that strange old book, with the queer name, poor 
Captain Brown was killed for reading — that book by Mr. Boz, 
you know — ' Old Poz ; ' when I was a girl — but that's a long 
time ago — I acted Lucy in 'Old Poz.*" She babbled on long 
enough for Flora to get a good long spell at the "Christmas 
Carol," which Miss Matty had left on the table. 



CHAPTER III. 

A LOVE AFFAIR OF LONG AGO. 

I THOUGHT that probably my connection with Cranford would 
cease after Miss Jenkyns's death ; at least, that it would have 
to be kept up by correspondence, which bears much the same 
relation to personal intercourse that the books of dried plants 
I sometimes see (" Hortus Siccus," I think they call the thing) 
do to the living and fresh flowers in the lanes and meadows. 
I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, by receiving a letter from 
Miss Pole (who had always come in for a supplementary week 



30 CRANFORD. 

after my annual visit to Miss Jenkyns) proposing that 1 should 
go and stay with her ; and then, in a couple of days after my 
acceptance, came a note from Miss Matty, in which, in a rather 
circuitous and very humble manner, she told me how much 
pleasure I should confer if I could spend a week or two with 
her, either before or after I had been at Miss Pole's; "for," 
she said, "since my dear sister's death I am well aware I have 
no attractions to offer ; it is only to the kindness of my friends 
that I can owe their company." 

Of course I promised to come to dear Miss Matty as soon as 
I had ended my visit to Miss Pole ; and the day after my arrival 
at Cranford I went to see her, much wondering what the house 
would be like without Miss Jenkyns, and rather dreading the 
changed aspect of things. Miss Matty began to cry as soon as 
she saw me. She was evidently nervous from having anticipated 
my call. I comforted her as well as I could ; and I found the 
best consolation I could give was the honest praise that came 
from my heart as I spoke of the deceased. Miss Matty slowly 
shook her head over each virtue as it was named and attributed 
to her sister ; and at last she could not restrain the tears which 
had long been silently flowing, but hid her face behind her 
handkerchief and sobbed aloud. 

" Dear Miss Matty," said I, taking her hand — for indeed I did 
not know in what way to tell her how sorry I was for her, left de- 
serted in the world. She put down her handkerchief and said — 

" My dear, I'd rather you did not call me Matty. She did not 
like it ; but I did many a thing she did not like, I'm afraid — and 
now she's gone ! If you please, my love, will you call me Matilda?" 

I promised faithfully, and began to practise the new name with 
Miss Pole that very day ; and, by degrees, Miss Matilda's feehng 
on the subject was known through Cranford, and we all tried to 
drop the more familiar name, but with so Httle success that by- 
and-by we gave up the attempt. 

My visit to Miss Pole was very quiet. Miss Jenkyns had so 
long taken the lead in Cranford that, now she was gone, they 
hardly knew how to give a party. The Honourable Mrs. Jamieson, 
to whom Miss Jenkyns herself had always yielded the post of 
honour, was fat and inert, and very much at the mercy of her 
old servants. If they chose that she should give a party, they 
reminded her of the necessity for so doing : if not, she let it 
alone. There was all the more time for me to hear old-world 



A LOVE AFFAIR OF LONG AGO. 3 1 

Stories from Miss Pole, while she sat knifting, and I making my 
father's shirts. I always took a quantity of plain sewing to 
Cranford ; for, as we did not read much, or walk much, I found 
it a capital time to get through my work. One of Miss Pole's ' 
stories related to a shadow of a love affair that was dimly per- 
ceived or suspected long years before. 

Presently, the time arrived when I was to remove to Miss 
Matilda's house. I found her timid and anxious about the 
arrangements for my comfort. Many a time, while I was un- 
packing, did she come backwards and forwards to stir the fire, 
which burned all the worse for being so frequently poked. 

"Have you drawers enough, dear?" asked she. "I don't 
know exactly how my sister used to arrange them. She had 
capital methods. I am sure she would have trained a servant 
in a week to make a better fire than this, and Fanny has been 
with me four months." 

This subject of servants was a standing grievance, and I could 
not wonder much at it ; for if gentlemen were scarce, and almost 
unheard of in the "genteel society" of Cranford, they or their 
counterparts — handsome young men — abounded in the lower 
classes. The pretty neat servant-maids had their choice of 
desirable "followers ; " and their mistresses, without having the 
sort of mysterious dread of men and matrimony that Miss 
Matilda had, might well feel a httle anxious lest the heads of 
their comely maids should be turned by the joiner, or the butcher, 
or the gardener, who were obliged, by their calhngs, to come 
to the house, and who, as ill-luck would have it, were generally 
handsome and unmarried. Fanny's lovers, if she had any — and 
Miss Matilda suspected her of so many flirtations that, if she 
had not been very pretty, I should have doubted her having one 
— were a cpnstant anxiety to her mistress. She was forbidden, 
by the articles of her engagement, to have "followers;" and 
though she had answered, innocently enough, doubling up the 
hem of her apron as she spoke, " Please, ma'am, I never had 
more than one at a time," Miss Matty prohibited that one. But 
a vision of a man seemed to haunt the kitchen. Fanny assured 
me that it was all fancy, br else I should have said myself that 
I had seen a man's coat-tails whisk into the scullery once, when 
I went on an errand into the store-room at night ; and another 
evening, when, our watches having stopped, I went to look at 
the clock, there was a very odd appearance, singularly like a 



32 CRANFORD. 

young man squeezed up between the clock and the back of the 
open kitchen-door : and I thought Fanny snatched up the candle 
very hastily, so as to 'throw the shadow on the clock face, while 
she very positively told me the time half-an-hour too early, as 
we found out afterwards by the church clock. But I did not 
add to Miss Matty's anxieties by naming my suspicions, espe- 
cially as Fanny said to me, the next day, that it was such a 
queer kitchen for having odd shadows about it, she really was 
almost afraid to stay; "for you know, miss," she added, "I 
don't see a creature from six o'clock tea, till Missus rings the 
bell for prayers at ten." 

However, it so fell out that Fanny had to leave ; and Miss 
Matilda begged me to stay and " settle her" with the new maid ; 
to which I consented, after I had heard from my father that he 
did not want me at home. The new servant was a rough, 
honest-looking, country girl, who had only Hved in a farm place 
before ; but I liked her looks when she came to be hired ; and I 
promised Miss Matilda to put her in the ways of the house. 
The said ways were religiously such as Miss Matilda thought 
her sister would approve. Many a domestic rule and regulation 
had been a subject of plaintive whispered murmur to me during 
Miss Jenkyns's life ; but now that she was gone, I do not think 
that even I, who was a favourite, durst have suggested an altera- 
tion. To give an instance : we constantly adhered to the forms 
v.hich were observed, at meal-times, in "my father, the rector's 
house." Accordingly, we had always wine and -dessert ; but the 
decanters were only filled when there was a party, and what 
remained was seldom touched, though we had two wine-glasses 
apiece every day after dinner, until the next festive occasion 
arrived, when the state of the remainder wine was examined into 
in a family council. The dregs were often given to the poor : 
but occasionally, when a good deal had been left at the last 
party (five months ago, it might be), it was added to some of a 
fresh bottle, brought up from the cellar. I fancy poor Captain 
Brown did not much like wine, for I noticed he never finished 
his first glass, and most military men take several. Then, as to 
our dessert, Miss Jenkyns used to gather currants and goose- 
berries for it herself, which I sometimes thought would have 
tasted better fresh from the trees ; but then, as Miss Jenkyns 
observed, there would have been nothing for dessert in summer- 
time. As it was, we felt very genteel with our two glasses apiece, 



A LOVE AFFAIR OF LONG AGO. 33.- 

and a dish of gooseberries at the top, of currants and biscuits at 
tiie sides, and two decanters at the bottom. When oranges 
came in, a curious proceeding was gone through. Miss Jenkyns 
did not hke to cut the fruit ; for, as she observed, the juice all 
ran out nobody knew where ; sucking (only I think she used 
some more recondite word) was in fact the only way of enjoying 
oranges ; but then there was the unpleasant association with a 
ceremony frequently gone through by little babies ; and so, after 
dessert, in orange season, Miss Jenkyns and Miss Matty used to 
rise up, possess themselves each of an orange in silence, and 
withdraw to the privacy of their own rooms to indulge in suck- 
ing oranges. 

I had once or twice tried, on such occasions, to prevail on 
Miss Matty to stay, and had succeeded in her sister's lifetime, 
I held up a screen, and did not look, and, as she said, she tried 
not to make the noise very offensive ; but now that she was left 
alone, she seemed quite horrified when I begged her to remain 
with me in the warm dining-parlour, and enjoy her orange as 
she liked best. And so it was in everything. Miss Jenkyns's 
rules were made more stringent than ever, because the framer 
of them was gone where there could be no appeal. In all things 
else Miss Matilda was meek and undecided to a fault. I have 
heard Fanny turn her round twenty times in a morning about 
dinner, just as the little hussy chose ; and I sometimes fancied 
she worked on Miss Matilda's weakness in order to bewilder her, 
and to make her feel more in the power of her clever servant. I 
determined that I would not leave her till I had seen what sort of 
a person Martha was ; and, if I found her trustworthy, I would 
tell her not to trouble her mistress with every little decision. 

Martha was blunt and plain-spoken to a fault ; otherwise she 
was a brisk, well-meaning, but very ignorant girl. She had not 
been with us a week before Miss Matilda and I were astounded 
one morning by the receipt of a letter fromi a cousin of hers, 
who had been twenty or thirty years in India, and who had 
lately, as we had seen by the " Army List," returned to England, 
bringing with him an invalid wife who had never been intro- 
duced to her English relations. Major Jenkyns wrote to propose 
that he and his wife should spend a night at Cranford, on his 
way to Scotland— at the inn, if it did not suit Miss Matilda to 
receive them into her house ; in which case they should hope to 
be with her as much as possible during the day. Of course it 

B 



34 CRANFORD. 

must suit her, as she said ; for all Craiiford knew that she had 
her sister's bedroom at hberty ; but I am sure she wished the 
Major had stopped in India and forgotten his cousins cut and out. 

"Oh! how must I manage?" asked she helplessly. "If 
Deborah had been alive she would have known what to do with 
a gentleman-visitor. Must I put razors in his dressing-room ? 
Dear ! dear ! and I've got none. Deborah would have had 
them. And slippers, and coat-brushes?" I suggested that 
probably he would bring all these things with him. " And after 
dinner, how am I to know when to get up and leave him to his 
wine ? Deborah would have done it so well ; she would have 
been quite in her element. Will he want coffee, do you think?" 
I undertook the management of the coffee, and told her I would 
instruct Martha in the art of waiting — in which it must be owned 
she was terribly deficient — and that I had no doubt Major and 
Mrs. Jenkyns would understand the quiet mode in which a lady 
lived by herself in a country town. But she was sadly fluttered. 
I made her empty her decanters and bring up two fresh bottles 
of wine. I wished I could have prevented her from being pre- 
sent at my instructions to Martha, for she frequently cut in with 
some fresh direction, muddling the poor girl's mind, as she stood 
open-mouthed, listening to us both. 

" Hand the vegetables round," said I (foohshly, I see now — 
for it was aiming at more than we could accomplish with quiet- 
ness and simplicity) ; and then, seeing her look bewildered, I 
added, "take the vegetables round to people, and let them 
help themselves." 

" And mind you go first to the ladies," put in Miss Matilda. 
*' Always go to the ladies before gentlemen when you are 
waiting." 

" I'll do it as you tell me, ma'am," said Martha ; " but I like 
lads best." 

We felt very uncomfortable and shocked at this speech of 
Martha's, yet I don't think she meant any harm ; and, on the 
whole, she attended very well to our directions, except that she 
" nudged " the Major when he did not help himself as soon as 
she expected to the potatoes, while she was handing them round. 

The Major and his wife were quiet, unpretending people 
enough when they did come ; languid, as all East Indians are, 
I suppose. We were rather dismayed at their bringing two 
servants with them, a Hindoo body-servant for the Major, and 



A LOVE AFFAIR OF LONG AGO. 35 

a steady elderly maid for his wife : but they slept at the inn, and 
took off a good deal of the responsibility by attending carefully 
to their master's and mistress's comfort. Martha, to be sure, 
had never ended her staring at the East Indian's white turban 
and brown complexion, and I saw that Miss Matilda shrunk 
away from him a little as he waited at dinner. Indeed, she 
asked me, when they were gone, if he did not remind me of 
Blue Beard ? On the whole, the visit was most satisfactory, and 
is a subject of conversation even now with Miss Matilda ; at 
the time it greatly excited Cranford, and even stirred up the 
apathetic and Honourable Mrs. Jamieson to some expression of 
interest, when I went to call and thank her for the kind answers 
she had vouchsafed to Miss Matilda's inquiries as to the arrange- 
ment of a gentleman's dressing-room— answers w^hich I must 
confess she had given in the wearied manner of the Scandinavian 
prophetess — 

" Leave me, leave me to repose. '* 

And now I come ta the love affair. 

It seems that Miss Pole had a cousin, once or twice removed, 
who had offered to Miss Matty long ago. Now this cousin lived 
four or five miles from Cranford on his own estate ; but his pro- 
perty was not large enough to entitle him to rank higher than a 
yeoman ; or rather, with something of the "pride which apes 
humility," he had refused to push himself on, as so many of his 
class had done, into the ranks of the squires. He would not allow 
himself to be called Thomas Holbrook, Esq. ; he even sent back 
letters with this address, telling the postmistress at Cranford that 
his name was Mr. Thomas Holbrook, yeoman. He rejected all 
domestic innovations ; he would have the house door stand open 
in summer and shut in winter, without knocker or bell to summon 
a servant. The closed fist or the knob of the stick did this office 
for him if he found the door locked. He despised every refine- 
ment which had not its root deep down in humanity. If people 
were not ill, he saw no necessity for moderating his voice. He 
spoke the dialect of the country in perfection, and constantly 
used it in conversation ; although Miss Pole (who gave me these 
particulars) added, that he read aloud more beautifully and with 
more feeling than any one she had ever heard, except the late 
rector. 

" And how came Miss Matilda not to marry him?" asked 'I. 



36 CRANFORD. 

"Oh, I don't know. She was wiUing enough, I think; but 
you know Cousin Thomas would not liave been enough of a 
gentleman for the rector and ]\Iiss Jenkyns." 

" Well ! but they were not to marry him," said T impatiently. 

" No ; but they did not like iMiss Matty to marry below her 
rank. You know she was the rector's daughter, and somehow 
they are related to Sir Peter Arley : Miss Jenkyns thought a 
deal of that." 

" Poor Miss jMatty ! " said I. 

" Nay, now, I don't know anything more than that he offered 
and was refused. Miss Ivlatty might not like him — and Miss 
Jenkyns might never have said a word — it is only a guess of 
mine." 

" Has she never seen him since? " I inquired. 

" No, I think not. You see Woodley, Cousin Thomas's house, 
lies half-way between Cranford and Misselton ; and I know he 
made Misselton his market-town very soon after he had offered 
to Miss Matty ; and I don't think he has been into Cranford 
above once or twice since — once, when I was walking with Miss 
Matty, in Pligh Street, and suddenly she darted from me, and 
went up Shire Lane. A few minutes after I was startled by 
meeting cousin Thomas." 

" How old is he?" I asked, after a pause of castle-building. 

"He must be about seventy, I think, my dear," said Miss 
Pole, blowing up my castle, as if by gunpowder, into small 
fragments. 

Very soon after — at least during my long visit to Miss 
Matilda — I had the opportunity of seeing Mr. Holbrook ; seeing, 
too, his first encounter with his former love, after thirty or forty 
years' separation. I was helping to decide whether any of the 
new assortment of coloured silks which they had just received at 
the shop would do to match a grey and black mousseline-de-laine 
that wanted a new breadth, when a tall, thin, Don Quixote-looking 
old man came into the shop for some woollen gloves. I had never 
seen the person (who was rather striking) before, and I watched 
him rather attentively while Miss Matty listened to the shopman. 
The stranger wore a blue coat with brass buttons, drab breeches, 
and gaiters, and drummed with his fingers on the counter until 
he was attended to. When he answered the shop-boy's question, 
" What can I have the pleasure of showing you to-day, sir?" I 
saw Miss Matilda start, and then suddenly sit down ; and in- 



A VISIT TO AN OLD BACHELOR. 2>1 

stantl y I guessed who it was. She had made some inquiry which 
had to be carried round to the other shopman. 

"■ Miss Jenkyns wants the black sarsenet two-and-twopence the 
yard ; " and Mr. Holbrookhad caught the name, and was across 
the shop in two strides. 

*' Matty — Miss Matilda — Miss Jenkyns ! God bless my soul ! 
I should not have known you. How are you? how are you?" 
He kept shaking her hand in a way which proved the warmth of 
his friendship; but he repeated so often, as if to himself, "I 
should not have known you!" that any sentimental romance 
which I might be inclined to build was quite done away with 
by his manner. 

However, he kept talking to us all the time we were in the shop ; 
and then waving the shopman with the unpurchased gloves on 
one side, wdth "Another time, sir! another time!" he walked 
home with us. I am happy to say my client. Miss Matilda, also 
left the shop in an equally bewildered state, not having purchased 
either green or red silk. Mr. Holbrook was evidently full with 
honest loud-spoken joy at meeting his old love again ; he touched 
on the changes that Jiad taken place ; he even spoke of Miss 
Jenkyns as "Your poor sister! Well, well! we have all our 
faults ; " and bade us good-bye with many a hope that he should 
soon see Miss Matty again. She went straight to her room, and 
never came back till our early tea-time, when I thought she 
looked as if she had been crving. 



CHAPTER IV. 

A VISIT TO AN OLD BACHELOR. 

A FEW days after, a note came from Mr. Holbrook, asking us — 
impartially asking both of us — in a formal, old-fashioned style, to 
spend a day at his house — along June day — for it was June now. 
He named that he had also invited his cousin, Miss Pole ; so 
that we might join in a fly, which could be put up at his house. 
I expected Miss Matty to jump at this invitation ; but, no ! 
}vliss Pole and I had the greatest difficulty in persuading her to 



33 CRANFORD. 

go. She thought it was improper; and was even half annoyed 
when we utterly ignored the idea of any impropriety in her 
going with two other ladies to see her old lover. Then came a 
more serious difficulty. She did not think Deborah would have 
liked her to go. This took us half a day's good hard talking to 
get over; but, at the first sentence of relenting, I seized the oppor- 
tunity, and wrote and despatched an acceptance in her name- 
fixing day and hour, that all might be decided and done with. 

The next morning she asked me if I would go down to the 
shop with her ; and there, after much hesitation, we chose out 
three caps to be sent home and tried on, that the most becoming 
might be selected to take with us on Thursday. 

She was in a state of silent agitation all the way to Woodley. 
She had evidently never been there before ; and, although she 
little dreamt I knew anything of her early story, I could perceive 
she was in a tremor at the thought of seeing the place which 
might have been her home, and round v/hich it is probable that 
many of her innocent girlish imaginations had clustered. It 
was a long drive there, through paved jolting lanes. Miss 
Matilda sat bolt upright, and looked wistfully out of the windows 
as we drew near the end of our journey. The aspect of the 
country was quiet and pastoral. Woodley stood among fields ; 
and there was an old-fashioned garden where roses and currant- 
Vjushes touched each other, and where the feathery asparagus 
formed a pretty background to the pinks and gilly-fiowers ; 
there was no drive up to the door. We got out at a little gate, 
and walked up a straight box-edged path, 

" My cousin might make a drive, I think," said Miss Pole, 
who was afraid of earache, and had only her cap on. 

" I think it is very pretty," said Miss Matty, with a soft plain- 
tiveness in her voice, and almost in a whisper, for just then Mr. 
Holbrook appeared at the door, rubbing his hands in very effer- 
vescence of hospitality. He looked more like my idea of Don 
Quixote than ever, and yet the likeness was only external. His 
respectable housekeeper stoocf modestly at the door to bid us 
welcome ; and, while she led the elder ladies upstairs to a bed- 
room, I begged to look about the garden. My request evidently 
pleased the old gentleman, who took me all round the place and 
showed me his six-and-twenty cows, named after the different 
letters of the alphabet. As we went along, he surprised me 
occasionally by repeating apt and beautiful quotations from the 



A VISIT TO AN OLD BACHELOR. 39 

poets, ranging easily from Slial^espeare and George Herbert to 
those of our own day. He did this as naturally as if he were 
thinking aloud, and their true and beautiful words were the best 
expression he could find for what he was thinking or feeling. 
To be sure he called Byron " my Lord Byrron," and pronounced 
the name of Goethe strictly in accordance with the English 
sound of the letters — "As Goethe says, 'Ye ever- verdant 
palaces,'" &c. Altogether, I never met with a man, before or 
since, who had spent so long a life in a secluded and not im- 
pressive country, with ever-increasing delight in the daily and 
yearly change of season and beauty. 

When he and I went in, we found that dinner was nearly ready 
in the kitchen — for so I suppose the room ought to be called, as 
there were oak dressers and cupboards all round, all over by the 
side of the fire-place, and only a small Turkey carpet in the 
middle of the flag-floor. The room might have been easily 
made into a handsome dark oak dining-parlour by removing 
the oven and a few other appurtenances of a kitchen, which 
were evidently never used, the real cooking-place being at some 
distance. The room in which we were expected to sit was a 
stiflly-furnished, ugly apartment ; but that in which we did sit 
was what Mr. Llolbrook called the counting-house, when he 
paid his labourers their weekly wages at a great desk near the 
door. The rest of the pretty sitting-room— looking into the 
orchard, and all covered over with dancing tree-shadows — was 
filled with books. They lay on the ground, they covered the 
walls, they strewed the table. He was evidently half ashamed 
and half proud of his extravagance in this respect. They were 
of all kinds — poetry and wild weird tales prevailing. He evi- 
dently chose his books in accordance with his own tastes, not 
because such and such were classical or established favourites. 

"Ah!" he said, " we farmers ought not to have much time 
for reading ; yet somehow one can't help it." 

" What a pretty room ! " said Miss INIatty, sotto voce. 

" What a pleasant place!" said I, aloud, almost simultane- 
ously. 

" Nay ! if you like it," replied he ; " but can you sit on these 
great, black leather, three-cornered chairs ? I like it better than 
the best parlour ; but I thought ladies would take that for the 
smarter place." 

It was the smarter place, but, like most smart things, not at 



40 CRANFORD. 

ali pretty, or pleasant, or home-like ; so, while we were at dinner, 
ihe servant-girl dusted and scrubbed the counting-house chairs, 
and we sat there all the rest of the day. 

We had pudding before meat ; and I thought Mr. Holbrook 
was going to make some apology for his old-fashioned ways, for 
he began — 

*' I don't know whether you like new-fangled ways. " 

"' Oh, not at all ! " said Miss Matty. 

*' No more do I," said he. " My housekeeper will have these 
in her new fashion ; or else I tell her that, when I was a young 
man, we used to keep strictly to my father's rule, ' No broth, 
ao ball ; no ball, no beef ; ' and always began dinner with broth. 
Tlien we had suet puddings, boiled in the broth with the beef ; 
mid then the meat itself. If we did not sup our broth, we had 
■m> ball, which we liked a deal better ; and the beef came last of 
zll, and only those liad it who had done justice to the broth 
a.nd the ball. Now folks begin wath sweet things, and turn 
ihe'ir dinners topsy-turvy." 

When the ducks and green peas came, we looked at each 
^'ythev in dismay; we had only two-pronged, black-handled 
vOrks. It is true the steel was as -bright as silver ; but what 
f;ere we to do ? Miss Matty picked up her peas, one by one, 
iSi the point of the prongs, much as Amin6 ate her grains of 
fice after her previous feast with the Ghoul. Miss Pole sighed 
•<Btver her delicate young peas as she left them on one side of her 
plate untasted, for they would drop between the prongs. I 
boked at my host : the peas were going wholesale into his 
rapacious mouth, shovelled up by his large, round-ended knife. 
I saw, I imitated, I survived ! My friends, in spite of my pre- 
'Eedent, could not muster up courage enough to do an ungenteel 
shing ; and, if Mr. Holbrook had not been so heartily hungry, 
\^ would probably have seen that the good peas went away 
almost untouched. 

After dinner, a clay pipe was brought in, and a spittoon ; 
-Tmd, asking us to retire to another room, where he would soon 
join us, if we disliked tobacco-smoke, he presented his pipe to 
Miss Matty, and requested her to fill the bowl. This was a 
compliment to a lady in his youth ; but it was rather inappro- 
|>riate to propose it as an honour to Miss Matty, who had been 
Srained by her sister to hold smoking of every kind in utter 
s^bhorrence. But if it was a shock to her refinement, it was 



A VISIT TO AN OLD BACHELOR. 4I 

also a gratification to her feelings to be thus selected ; so she 
daintily stuffed the strong tobacco into the pipe, and then we 
withdrew. 

" It is very pleasant dining with a bachelor," said Miss Matty 
softly, as we settled ourselves in the counting-house. ' ' I only 
hope it is not improper ; so many pleasant things are ! " 

"What a number of books he has ! " said Miss Pole, looking 
round the room. "And how dusty they are ! " 

"I think it must be like one of the great Dr. Johnson's 
rooms," said Miss Matty. "What a superior man your cousin 
must be ! " 

"Yes!" said Miss Pole, "he's a great reader; but I am 
afraid he has got into very uncouth habits with living alone." 

" Oh ! uncouth is too hard a word. I should call him eccen- 
tric ; very clever people always are ! " replied Miss Matty. 

When Mr. Holbrook returned, he proposed a walk in the 
fields ; but the two elder ladies were afraid of damp, and dirt, 
and had only very unbecoming calashes to put on over their 
caps ; so they declined, and I was again his companion in a 
turn which he said he was obhged to take to see after his men. 
He strode along, either wholly forgetting my existence, or 
soothed into silence by his pipe — and yet it was not silence 
exactly. He walked before me with a stooping gait, his hands 
clasped behind him ; and, as some tree or cloud, or glimpse of 
distant upland pastures, struck him, he quoted poetry to himself, 
saying it out loud in a grand, sonorous voice, with just the em- 
phasis that true feehng and appreciation give. We came upon 
an old cedar tree, which stood at one end of the house — 

" The cedar spreads his dark-green layers of shade." 

"Capital term — 'layers!' Wonderful man!" I did not 
know whether he was speaking to me or not ; but I put in an 
assenting "wonderful," although I knew nothing about it, just 
because I was tired of being forgotten, and of being consequently 
silent. 

He turned sharp round. "Ay! you may say 'wonderful.' 
Why, when I saw the review of his poems in Blackwood, I set 
off within an hour, and walked seven miles to Misselton (for 
the horses were not in the way) and ordered them. Now, what 
colour are ashbuds in March?" 

B 2 



42 CRANFORD. 

Is the man going mad? thought I. He is very hke Don 
Quixote. 

"What colour are they, I say?" repeated he vehemently. 

" I am sure I don't know, sir," said I, with the meekness of 
ignorance. 

" I knew you didn't. No more did I — an old fool that I am ! 
- — till this young man comes and tells me. Black as ash-buds 
in March. And I've lived all my life in the country ; more 
shame for me not to know. Black : they are jet-black, madam." 
And he went off again, swinging along to the music of some 
rhyme he had got hold of. 

When we came back, nothing would serve him but he must 
read us the poems he had been speaking of; and Miss Pole 
encouraged him in his proposal, I thought, because she wished 
me to hear his beautiful reading, of which she had boasted ; 
bitt she afterwards said it was because she had got to a difficult 
part of her crochet, and wanted to count her stitches without 
having to talk. Whatever he had proposed would have been 
right to Miss Matty ; although she did fall sound asleep within 
five minutes after he had begun a long poem, called ' Locksley 
Hall,' and had a comfortable nap, unobserved, till he ended ; 
when the cessation of his voice wakened her up, and she said, 
feeling that something was expected, and that Miss Pole vras 
counting — • 

" What a pretty book ! " 

" Pretty, madam ! it's beautiful ! Pretty, indeed ! " 

" Oh yes ! I meant beautiful ! " said she, fluttered at his dis- 
approval of her word. "It is so like that beautiful poem of 
Dr. Johnson's my sister used to read — I forget the name of it ; 
what was it, my dear?" turning to me. 

"Which do you mean, ma'am ? What was it about?" 

" I don't remember what it was about, and I've quite forgotten 
what the name of it was ; but it was written by Dr. Johnson, 
and was very beautiful, and very like what Mr. Holbrook has 
just been reading." 

"I don't remember it," said he reflectively. "But I don't 
know Dr. Johnson's poems well. I must read them." 

As we were getting into the fly to return, I heard Mr. Hol- 
brook say he should call on the ladies soon, and inquire how 
they got home ; and this evidently pleased and fluttered Miss 
Matty at the time he said it ; but after we had lost sight of the 



• A VISIT TO AN OLD BACHELOR. 43 

old house among the trees her sentiments towards the master 
of it were gradually absorbed into a distressing wonder as to 
whether Martha had broken her word, and seized on the 
opportunity of her mistress's absence to have a "follower." 
Martha looked good, and steady, and composed enough, as 
she came to help us out ; she was always careful of Miss 
Matty, and to-night she made use of this unlucky speech — 

" Eh ! dear ma'am, to think of your going out in an evening 
in such a thin shawl ! It's no better than muslin. At your age, 
ma'am, you should be careful." 

' "My age!" said Miss Matty, almost speaking crossly, for 
her, for she was usually gentle — " My age ! Why, how old do 
you think I am, that you talk about my age?" 

"Well, ma'am, I should say you were not far short of sixty : 
but folks' looks is often against them — and I'm sure I meant no 
harm." 

"Martha, I'm not yet fifty-two!" said Miss Matty, with 
grave emphasis ; for probably the remembrance of her youth 
had come very vividly before her this day, and she was annoyed 
at finding that golden time so far away in the past. 

But she never spoke of any former and more intimate ac- 
quaintance with Mr. Holbrook. She had probably met with 
so little sympathy in her early love, that she had shut it up 
close in her heart ; and it was only by a sort of v/atching, which 
I could hardly avoid since Miss Pole's confidence, that I saw 
how faithful her poor heart had been in its sorrow and its 
silence. 

She gave me some good reason for wearing her best cap 
every day, and sat near the window, in spite of her rheumatism, 
in order to see, without being seen, down into the street. 

He came. He put his open palms upon his knees, which 
were far apart, as he sat with his head bent down, whistling, 
after we had rephed to his inquiries about our safe return. 
Suddenly he jumped up — 

"Well, madam! have you any commands for Paris? I am 
going there in a week or two." 

" To Paris ! " we both exclaimed. 

"Yes, madam 1 I've never been there, and always had a wish 
to go ; and I think if I don't go soon, I mayn't go at all ; so 
as soon as the hay is got in I shall go, before harvest time." 

We were so much astonished that we had no commissions. 



44 CRANFORD. 

Just as he was going out of the room, he turned back, with his 
favourite exclamation — 

"God bless my soul, madam! but I nearly forgot half my 
errand. Here are the poems for you you admired so much the 
other evening at my house." He tugged away at a parcel in 
his coat-pocket. "Good-bye, miss," sdid he; "good-bye,. 
Matty! take care of yourself." And he was gone. But he 
had given her a book, and he had called her Matty, just as he 
used to do thirty years ago. 

"I wish he would not go to Paris," said Miss Matilda 
anxiously. " I don't believe frogs will agree with him ; he used 
to have to be very careful what he ate, which was curious in so 
strong-looking a young man." 

Soon after this I took my leave, giving many an injunction 
to Martha to look after her mistress, and to let me know if she 
thought that Miss Matilda was not so well ; in which case I 
would volunteer a visit to my old friend, without noticing 
Martha's inteUigence to her. 

Accordingly I received a line or two from Martha every now 
and then ; and, about November, I had a note to say her 
mistress was "very low and sadly off her food;" and the 
account made me so uneasy that, although Martha did not 
decidedly summon me, I packed up my things and went. 

I received a warm welcome, in spite of the little flurry pro- 
duced by my impromptu visit, for I had only been able to give 
a day's notice. Miss Matilda looked miserably ill ; and I pre- 
pared to comfort and cosset her. 

I went down to have a private talk with Martha. 

" How long has your mistress been so poorly?' I asked, as 
I stood by the kitchen fire. 

" Well ! I think it's better than a fortnight ; it is, I know ; it 
was one Tuesday, after Miss Pole had been, that she went into 
this moping way. I thought she was tired, and it would go off 
with a night's rest ; but no 1 she has gone on and on ever since, 
till I thought it my duty to write to you, ma'am." 

"You did quite right, Martha. It is a comfort to think she 
has so faithful a servant about her. And I hope you find your 
place comfortable?" 

"Well, ma'am, missus is very kind, and there's plenty to 
eat and drink, and no more work but what I can do easily — 
but " Martha hesitated. 



• A VISIT TO AN OLD BACHELOR. 45. 

*' But what, Martha?" 

"Why, it seems so hard of missus not to let me have any 
followers ; there's such lots of young fellows in the town ; and. 
many a one has as much as offered to keep company with me ; 
and I may never be in such a likely place again, and it's like 
wasting an opportunity. Many a girl as I know would have 
'em unbeknownst to missus ; but I've given my word, and I'll 
stick to it ; or else this is just the house for missus never to be 
the wiser if they did come : and it's such a capable kitchen — 
there's such good dark corners in it — I'd be bound to hide any 
one. I counted up last Sunday night — for I'll not deny I was 
crying because I had to shut the door in Jem Hearn's face, and 
he's a steady young man, fit for any girl ; only I had given 
•missus my word." Martha was all but crying again; and I 
had little comfort to give her, for I knew, from old experience, 
of the horror with which both the Miss Jenkynses looked upon 
"followers;" and in Miss Matty's present nervous state this 
dread was not hkely to be lessened. 

I went to see Miss Pole the next day, and took her completely 
by surprise, for she had not been to see Miss Matilda for two 
days. 

" And now I must go back with you, my dear, for I promised 
to let her know how Thomas Holbrook went on ; and, I'm sorry 
to say, his housekeeper has sent me word to-day that he hasn't 
long to live. Poor Thomas ! that journey to Paris was quite too 
much for him. His housekeeper says he has hardly ever been 
round his fields since, but just sits with his hands on his knees 
in the counting-house, not reading or anything, but only saying 
what a wonderful city Paris was ! Paris has much to answer for 
if it's killed my cousin Thomas, for a better man never lived." 

" Does Miss Matilda know of his illness?" asked I — a new 
light as to the cause of her indisposition dawning upon me. 

" Dear ! to be sure, yes ! Has not she told you? I let her 
know a fortnight • ago, or more, when first I heard of it. How 
odd she shouldn't have told you ! " 

Not at all, I thought ; but I did not say anything. I felt 
almost guilty of having spied too curiously into that tender heart, 
and I was not going to speak of its secrets— hidden, Miss Matty 
believed, from all the world. I ushered Miss Pole into Miss 
Matilda's little drawing-room, and then left them alone. But I 
was not surprised when Martha came to my bedroom door, to ask: 



46 C RAN FORD. 

me to go down to dinner alone, for that missus had one of her 
bad headaches. She came into the drawing-room at tea-time, 
but it was evidently an effort to her ; and, as if to make up for 
some reproachful feeling against her late sister, Miss Jenkyns, 
which had been troubling her all the afternoon, and for which 
she now felt penitent, she kept telling me how good and how 
clever Deborah was in her youth ; how she used to settle what 
gowns they were to v/ear at all the parties (faint, ghostly ideas 
of grim parties, far away in the distance, when Miss Matty and 
Miss Pole were young !) ; and how Deborah and her mother 
had started the benefit society for the poor, and taught girls 
cooking and plain sewing ; and how Deborah had once danced 
with a lord ; and how she used to visit at Sir Peter Arley's, 
and try to remodel the quiet rectory establishment on the plans' 
of Arley Hall, where they kept thirty servants ; and how she 
had nursed Miss Matty through a long, long illness, of which 
I had never heard before, but which I now dated in my own 
mind as following the dismissal of the suit of Mr. Holbrook. 
So we talked softly and quietly of old times through the long 
November evening. 

The next day Miss Pole brought us word that Mr. Holbrook 
was dead. Miss Matty heard the news in silence ; in fact, from 
the account of the previous day, it was only what we had to 
expect. Miss Pole kept calling upon us for some expression of 
regret, by asking if it was not sad that he was gone, and saying — 

"To think of that pleasant day last June, when beseemed 
so well ! And he might have lived this dozen years if he had 
not gone to that wicked Paris, where they are always having 
revolutions." 

She paused for some demonstration on our part. I saw Miss 
M.\tty could not speak, she was trembling so nervously ; so I 
said vv'hat I really felt ; and after a call of some duration— all 
IItc time of which I have no doubt Miss Pole thought Miss Matty 
received the news very calmly— our visitor took her leave. 

Miss Matty made a strong effort to conceal her feelings — a 
concealment she practised even with me, for she has never 
alluded to Mr. Holbrook again, although the book he gave her 
lies with her Bible on the little table by her bedside. She did 
not think I heard her when she asked the little milliner of 
Cranford to make her caps something like the Honourable Mrs» 
Jamieson's, or that I noticed the reply — 



A VISIT TO AN OLD BACHELOR. 47 

" But she wears widows' caps, ma'am ?" 

" Oh ? I only meant something in that style ; not widows', of 
course, but rather like Mrs. Jamieson's." 

This effort at concealment v/as the beginning of the tremulous 
motion of head and hands which I have seen ever since in 
Miss Matty. 

The evening of the day on which we heard of Mr. Holbrook's 
death. Miss Matilda was very silent and thoughtful ; after 
prayers she called Martha back, and then she stood uncertain 
what to say. 

"Martha!" she said, at last, "you are young" — and then 
she made so long a pause that Martha, to remind her of her 
half-fmished sentence, dropped a curtsey, and said — 

" Yes, please, ma'am ; two-and-twenty last third of October, 
please, ma'am." 

" And, perhaps, Martha, you may some time meet with a 
young man you like, and who likes you. I did say you were 
not to have followers ; but if you meet with such a young man, 
and tell me, and I find he is respectable, I have no objection to 
his coming to see you once a week. God forbid ! " said she in 
a low voice, " that I should grieve any young hearts." She 
spoke as if she were providing for some distant contingency, 
and was rather startled when Martha made her ready eager 
answer — 

" Please, ma'am, there's Jem Hearn, and he's a joiner making 
three-and-sixpence a-day, and six foot one in his stocking-feet, 
please, ma'am ; and if you'll ask about him to-morrow morning, 
every one will give him a character for steadiness ; and he'll be 
glad enough to come to-morrow night, I'll be bound." 

Though Miss Matty was startled, she submitted to Fate and 
Love. 



48 CRANFORD. 



CHAPTER V. 

OLD LETTERS. 

I HAVE often noticed that almost every one has his own indi- 
vidual small economies — careful habits of saving fractions of 
pennies in some one pecuhar direction — any disturbance of 
which annoys him more than spending shillings or pounds on 
some real extravagance. An old gentleman of ray acquaintance, 
who took the intelligence of the failure of a Joint-Stock Bank, 
in which some of his money was invested, with stoical mildness, 
worried his family all through a long summer's day because one 
of them had torn (instead of cutting) out the written leaves of 
his now useless bank-book ; of course, the corresponding pages 
at the other end came out as well, and this little unnecessary 
waste of paper (his private economy) chafed him more than all 
the loss of his money. Envelopes fretted his soul terribly when 
they first came in ; the only way in which he could reconcile 
himself to such waste of his cherished article was by patiently 
turning inside out all that were sent to him, and so making 
them serve again. Even now, though tamed by age, I see him 
casting wistful glances at his daughters when they send a whole 
inside of a half-sheet of note-paper, with the three lines of 
acceptance to an invitation, written on only one of the sides. 
I am not above owning that I have this human weakness myself. 
String is my foible. My pockets get full of little hanks of it, 
picked up and twisted together, ready for uses that never come. 
I am seriously annoyed if any one cuts the string of a parcel 
instead of patiently and faithfully undoing it fold by fold. How 
people can bring themselves to use india-rubber rings, which 
are a sort of deification of string, as lightly as they do, I cannot 
imagine. To me an india-rubber ring is a precious treasure. 
I have one which is not new — one that I picked up off the 
floor nearly six years ago. I have really tried to use it, but 
my heart failed me, and I could not commit the extravagance. 

Small pieces of butter grieve others. They cannot attend to 
conversation because of the annoyance occasioned by the habit 



OLD LETTERS. 49 

which some people have of invariably taking more butter than 
they v/ant. Have you not seen the anxious look (almost mes- 
meric) which such persons fix on the article? They would feel 
it a relief if they might bury it out of their sight by popping 
it into their own mouths and swallowing it down ; and they 
are really made happy if the person on whose plate it lies unused 
suddenly breaks off a piece of toast (which he does not want 
at all) and eats up his butter. They think that this is not 
waste. 

Now Miss Matty Jenkyns was chary of candles. We had 
many devices to use as few as possible. In the winter after- 
noons she would sit knitting for two or three hours — she could 
do this in the dark, or by firelight— and when I asked if I 
might not ring for candles to finish stitching my wristbands, she 
told me to "keep blind man's holiday." They were usually 
brought in with tea ; but we only burnt one at a time. As we 
lived in constant preparation for a friend who might come in 
any evening (but who never did), it required some contrivance 
to keep our two candles of the same length, ready to be hghted, 
and to look as if we burnt two always. The candles took it 
in turns ; and, whatever we might be talking about or doing, 
Miss Matty's eyes were habitually fixed upon the candle, ready 
to jump up and extinguish it and to light the other before they 
had become too uneven in length to be restored to equality in 
the course of the evening. 

One night, I remember this candle economy particularly 
annoyed me. I had been very much tired of my compulsory 
" bhnd man's holiday," especially as Miss Matty had fallen 
asleep, and I did not like to stir the fire and run the risk of 
awakening her ; so I could not even sit on the rug, and scorch 
myself with sewing by firelight, according to my usual custom. 
I fancied Miss Matty must be dreaming of her early life ; for 
she spoke one or two words in her uneasy sleep bearing 
reference to persons who were dead long before. When Martha 
brought in the lighted candle and tea, Miss Matty started into 
wakefulness, with a strange, bewildered look around, as if we 
were not the people she expected to see about her. There was 
a Httle sad expression that shadowed her face as she recognised 
me ; but immediately afterwards she tried to give me her usual 
smile. All through tea-time her talk ran upon the days of 
her childhood and youth. Perhaps this reminded her of the 



50 CRANFORD. 

desirableness of looking over all tlie old family letters, and destroy- 
ing such as ought not to be allowed to fall into the hands 
of strangers ; for she had often spoken of the necessity of this 
task, but had always shrunk from it, with a timid dread of 
something painful. To-night, however, she rose up after tea 
and went for them — in the dark ; for she piqued herself on the 
precise neatness of all her chamber arrangements, and used to 
look uneasily at me when I lighted a bed-candle to go to 
another room for anything. When she returned there was a 
faint, pleasant smell of Tonquin beans in the room. I had 
always noticed this scent about any of the things which had 
belonged to her mother ; and many of the letters were ad- 
dressed to her — yellow bundles of love-letters, sixty or seventy 
years old. 

Miss Matty undid the packet with a sigh ; but she stifled it 
directly, as if it were hardly right to regret the flight of time, or 
of life either. We agreed to look them over separately, each 
taking a different letter out of the same bundle and describing 
its contents to the other before destroying it. I never knew 
what sad work the reading of old letters was before that evening, 
though I could hardly tell why. The letters were as happy as 
letters could be — at least those early letters were. There was 
in them a vivid and intense sense of the present time, which 
seemed so strong and full, as if it could never pass away, and 
as if the warm, living hearts that so expressed themselves could 
never die, and be as nothing to the sunny earth. I should 
have felt less melancholy, I believe, if the letters had been more 
so. I saw the tears stealing down the well-worn furrows of 
Miss Matty's cheeks, and her spectacles often wanted wiping. 
I trusted at last that she would light the other candle, for my 
own eyes were rather dim, and I wanted more light to see the 
pale, faded ink ; but no, even through her tears, she saw and 
remembered her little economical ways. 

The earliest set of letters were two bundles tied together, and 
ticketed (in Miss Jenkyns's handwriting) " Letters interchanged 
between my ever-honoured father and my dearly-beloved mother, 
prior to their marriage, in July 1774." I should guess that the 
rector of Cranford was about twenty-seven years of age when 
he wrote those letters ; and Miss Matty told me that her mother 
was just eighteen at the time of her wedding. With my idea 
of the rector, derived from a picture in the dining-parlour, stiff 



OLD LETTERS. 5 1 

and stately, in a huge full-bottomed wig, with gown, cassock, 
and bands, and his hand upon a copy of the only sermon he 
ever published — it w^as strange to read these letters. They were 
full of eager, passionate ardour ; short homely sentences, right 
fresh from the heart (very different from the grand Latinised, 
Johnsonian style of the printed sermon, preached before some 
judge at assize time). His letters were a curious contrast to 
those of his girl-bride. She was evidently rather annoyed at 
his demands upon her for expressions of love, and could not 
quite understand what he meant by repeating the same thing 
over in so many different v/ays ; but what she was quite clear 
about was a longing for a white " Paduasoy " — whatever that 
might be ; and six or seven letters were principally occupied in 
asking her lover to use his influence with her parents {who 
evidently kept her in good order) to obtain this or that article 
of dress, more especially the white "Paduasoy." He cared 
nothing how she was dressed ; she was always lovely enough 
for Ijim, as he took pains to assure her, when she begged him 
to express in his answers a predilection for particular pieces 
of finery, in order that she might show what he said to her 
parents. But at length he seemed to find out that she would 
not be married till she had a " trousseau" to her mind ; and 
. then he sent her a letter, which had evidently accompanied a 
whole box full of finery, and in which he requested that she 
might be dressed in everything her heart desired. This was 
the first letter, ticketed in a frail, delicate hand, " From my 
dearest John. " Shortly afterwards they were married, I suppose, 
from the intermission in their correspondence. 

"We must burn them, I think," said Miss Matty, looking 
doubtfully at me. "No one will care for them when I am 
gone." And one by one she dropped them into the middle of 
the fire, watching each blaze up, die out, and rise away, in faint, 
white, ghostly semblance, up the chimney, before she gave 
another to the same fate. The room was hght enough now ; 
but I, like her, was fascinated into w'atching the destruction of 
those letters, into which the honest warmth of a manly heart 
had been poured forth. 

The next letter, likewise docketed by Miss Jenkyns, was en- 
dorsed, "Letter of pious congratulation and exhortation from 
my venerable grandfather to my beloved mother, on occasion: 
of my own birth. Also some practical remarks on the desi- 



52 CRANFORD. 

lability of keeping warm the extremities of infants, from my 
excellent grandmother." 

The first part was, indeed, a severe and forcible picture of 
the responsibilities of mothers, and a warning against the evils 
that were in the world, and lying in ghastly wait for the Httle 
baby of two days old. His wife did not write, said the old 
gentleman, because he had forbidden it, she being indisposed 
with a sprained ankle, which (he said) quite incapacitated her 
from holding a pen. However, at the foot of the page was a 
small "T.O.," and on turning it over, sure enough, there was 
a letter to "my dear, dearest Molly," begging her, when she 
left her room, whatever she did, to go up stairs before going 
down: and telling her to wrap her baby's feet up in flannel, 
and keep it warm by the fire, although it was summer, for 
babies were so tender. 

It was pretty to see from the letters, which were evidently 
exchanged with some frequency between the young mother and 
the grandmother, how the girlish vanity was being weeded out 
of her heart by love for her baby. The white " Paduasoy' 
figured again in the letters, with almost as much vigour as 
before. In one, it was being made into a christening cloak 
for the baby. It decked it when it went with its parents to 
spend a day or two at Arley Hall. It added to its charms, 
when it was " the prettiest little baby that ever was seen. 
Dear mother, I wish you could see her ! Without any parshality, 
I do think she will grow up a regular bevvty ! " I thought of 
Miss Jenkyns, grey, withered, and wrinkled, and I wondered 
if her mother had known her in the courts of heaven : and 
then I knew that she had, and that they stood there in angelic 
guise. 

There was a great gap before any of the rector's letters ap- 
peared. And then his wife had changed her mode of endorse- 
ment. It was no longer from "My dearest John;" it was 
from " My honoured Husband." The letters were written on 
occasion of the publication of the same sermon which was 
represented in the picture. The preaching before " My Lord 
Judge," and the " publishing by request," was evidently the 
culminating point — the event of his life. It had been necessary 
for him to go up to London to superintend it through the 
press. Many friends had to be called upon, and consulted, 
before he could decide on any printer fit for so onerous a task ; 



OLD LETTERS. 55 

and at length it was arranged that J. and J. Rivingtons were 
to have the honourable responsibility. The worthy rector 
seemed to be strung up by the occasion to a high literary pitch, 
for he could hardly write a letter to his wife without cropping 
out into Latin. I remember the end of one of his letters ran 
thus : " I shall ever hold the virtuous qualities of my Molly in 
remembrance, dum mefnor ipse mei, dum spirit us regit artzis," 
which, considering that the English of his correspondent was 
sometimes at fault in grammar, and often in spelling, might 
be taken as a proof of how much he " idealised his Molly ; " 
and, as Miss Jenkyns used to say, "People talk a great deal 
about idealising now-a-days, whatever that may mean." But 
this was nothing to a fit of writing classical poetry which soon 
seized him, in which his Molly figured away as " Maria." The 
letter containing the carmen was endorsed by her, "Hebrew 
verses sent me by my honoured husband. I thowt to have had 
a letter about kilhng the pig, but must wait. Mem., to send 
the poetry to Sir Peter Arley, as my husband desires." And 
in a post-scriptum note in his handwriting it was stated that 
the Ode had appeared in the Ge?itleman s Magazine, Decem- 
ber 1782. 

-Her letters back to her husband (treasured as fondly by him 
as if they had been M. T. Ciceronis Epistolcs) were more satis- 
factory to an absent husband and father than his could ever 
have been to her. She told him how Deborah sewed her seam 
very neatly every day, and read to her in the books he had set 
her ; how she was a very " forrard," good child, but would ask 
questions her mother could not answer, but how she did not let 
herself down by saying she did not know, but took to stirring 
the fire, or sending the "forrard" child on an errand. Matty 
was now the mother's darling, and promised (like her sister at 
her age) to be a great beauty. I was reading this aloud to Miss 
Matty, who smiled and sighed a little at the hope, so fondly 
expressed, that " httle Matty might not be vain, even if she 
were a bewty." 

" I had very pretty hair, my dear," said Miss Matilda ; "and 
not a bad mouth." And I saw her soon afterwards adjust her 
cap and draw herself up. 

But to return to Mrs. Jenkyns's letters. She told her husband 
about the poor in the parish ; what homely domestic medicines 
she had administered ; what kitchen physic she had sent. She 



54 CRANFORD. 

had evidently held his displeasure as a rod in pickle over the 
heads of all the ne'er-do-wells. She asked for his directions 
about the cows and pigs ; and did not always obtain them, as I 
have shown before. 

The kind old grandmother was dead when a little boy was 
born, soon after the publication of the sermon ; but there was 
another letter of exhortation from the grandfather, more strin- 
gent and admonitory than ever, now that there was a boy to be 
guarded from the snares of the world. He described all the 
various sins into which men might fall, until I wondered how 
any man ever came to a natural death. The gallows seemed as 
if it must have been the termination of the lives of most of the 
grandfather's friends and acquaintance ; and I was not sur- 
prised at the way in which he spoke of this life being "a vale 
of tears." 

It seemed curious that I should never have heard of this 
brother before ; but I concluded that he had died young, or else 
surely his name would have been alluded to by his sisters. 

By-and-by we came to packets of Miss Jenkyns's letters. 
These Miss Matty did regret to burn. She said all the others 
had been only interesting to those who loved the writers, and 
that it seemed as if it would have hurt her to allow them to fall 
into the hands of strangers, who had not known her dear mother, 
and how good she was, although she did not always spell quite 
in the modern fashion ; but Deborah's letters were so very supe- 
rior ! Any one might profit by reading them. It was a long 
time since she had read Mrs. Chapone, but she knew she used 
to think that Deborah could have said the same things quite as 
well ; and as for Mrs. Carter ! people thought a deal of her 
letters, just because she had written " Epictetus," but she was 
quite sure Deborah would never have made use of such a common 
expression as " I canna be fashed ! " 

Miss Matty did grudge burning these letters, it was evident. 
She would not let them be carelessly passed over with any quiet 
reading, and skipping, to myself. She took them from me, and 
even lighted the second candle in order to read them aloud with 
a proper emphasis, and without stumbHng over the big words. 
Oh dear ! how I wanted facts instead of reflections, before those 
letters were concluded ! They lasted us two nights ; and I won't 
deny that I made use of the time to think of many other things, 
and yet I was always at my post at the end of each sentence. 



OLD LETTERS. 55 

The rector's letters, and those of his wife and mother-in-law, 
had all been tolerably short and pithy, written in a straight 
hand, with the lines very close together. Sometimes the whole 
letter was contained on a mere scrap of paper. The paper was 
very yellow, and the ink very brown ; some of the sheets were 
(as Miss Matty made me observe) the old original post, with the 
stamp in the corner representing a post-boy riding for life and 
twanging his horn. The letters of Mrs. Jenkyns and her mother 
were fastened with a great round red wafer ; for it was before 
Miss Edgeworth's "Patronage" had banished wafers from 
pohte society. It was evident, from the tenor of what was said, 
that franks were in great request, and were even used as a 
means of paying debts by needy members of Parliament. The 
rector sealed his epistles with an immicnse coat of arms, and 
showed by the care with which he had performed this ceremony 
that he expected they should be cut open, not broken by any 
thoughtless or impatient hand. Now, Miss Jenkyns's letters 
were of a later date in form and writing. She wrote on the 
square sheet which we have learned to call i^ld-fashioned. Her 
hand was admirably calculated, together with her use of many- 
syllabled words, to fill up a sheet, and then came the pride and 
dehght of crossing. Poor Miss Matty got sadly puzzled with 
this, for the words gathered size like snowballs, and towards 
the end of her letter Miss Jenkyns used to become quite sesqui- 
pedalian. In one to her father, slightly theological and con- 
troversial in its tone, she had spoken of Herod, Tetrarch of 
Idumea. Miss Ivlatty read it " Herod Petrarch of Etruria," 
and was just as well pleased as if she had been right. 

I can't quite remember the date, but I think it was in 1805 
that Miss Jenkyns wrote the longest series of letters — on occasion 
of her absence on a visit to some friends near Newcastle-upon- 
Tyne. These friends were intimate with the commandant of 
the garrison there, and heard from him of all the preparations 
that were being made to repel the invasion of Buonaparte, which 
some people imagined might take place at the mouth of the 
Tyne. Miss Jenkyns was evidently very much alarmed ; and 
the first part of her letters was often written in pretty inteUigible 
English, conveying particulars of the preparations which were 
made in the family with whom she was residing against the 
dreaded event ; the bundles of clothes that were packed up 
ready for a flight to Alston Moor (a wild hilly piece of ground 



56 CRANFORD. 

between Northumberland and Cumberland) ; the signal that 
was to be given for this flight, and for the simultaneous turning 
out of the volunteers under arms— which said signal was to con- 
sist (if I remember rightly) in ringing the church bells in a parti- 
cular and ominous manner. One day, w-hen Miss Jenkyns and 
her hosts were at a dinner-party in Newcastle, this warning 
summons was actually given (not a very wise proceeding, if 
there be any truth in the moral attached to the fable of the Boy 
and the Wolf; but so it was), and Miss Jenkyns, hardly re- 
covered from her fright, wrote the next day to describe the 
sound, the breathless shock, the hurry and alarm ; and then, 
taking breath, she added, " How trivial, my dear father, do all 
our apprehensions of the last evening appear, at the present 
moment, to calm and inquiring minds ! " And here Miss Matty 
broke in with — • 

" But, indeed, my dear, they were not at all trivial or trifling 
at the time. I know I used to wake up in the night many a 
time and think I heard the tramp of the French entering Cranford. 
Many people talked of hiding t?iemselves in the salt mines — 
and meat would have kept capitally down there, only perhaps 
we should have been thirsty. And my father preached a whole 
set of sermons on the occasion ; one s&t in the mornings, all 
about David and Goliath, to spirit up the people to fighting 
with spades or bricks, if need were ; and the other set in the 
afternoons, proving that Napoleon (that was another name for 
Bony, as we used to call him) was all the same as an Apollyon 
and Abaddon. I remember my father rather thought he should 
be asked to print this last set ; but the parish had, perhaps, 
had enough of them with hearing." 

Peter Marmaduke Arley Jenkyns ("poor Peter!" as Miss 
Matty began to call him) was at school at Shrewsbury by this 
time. The rector took up his pen, and rubbed up his Latin 
once more, to correspond with his boy. It was very clear that 
the lad's were what are called show letters. They were of a 
highly mental description, giving an account of his studies, and 
his intellectual hopes of various kinds, with an occasional quota- 
tion from the classics ; but, now and then, the animal nature 
broke out in such a httle sentence as this, evidently written in a 
trembling hurry, after the letter had been inspected : " Mother 
dear, do send me a cake, and put plenty of citron in." The 
" mother dear " probably answered her boy in the form of cakes 



POOR PETER. 57 

and "goody," for there were none of her letters among this set ; 
but a whole collection of the rector's, to whom the Latin in his 
boy's letters was like a trumpet to the old war-horse. I do not 
know much about Latin, certainly, and it is, perhaps, an orna- 
mental language, but not very useful, I think — at least to judge 
from the bits I remember out of the rector's letters. One was, 
"You have not got that town in your map of Ireland; but 
Bonus Ber?iardus non videt omnia, as the Proverbia say." 
Presently it became very evident that "poor Peter" got himself 
into many scrapes. There were letters of stilted penitence to 
his father, for some wrong-doing ; and among them all was a 
badly-written, badly-sealed, badly-directed, blotted note — "My 
dear, dear, dear, dearest mother, I will be a better boy; I will, 
indeed ; but don't, please, be ill for me ; I am not worth it ; 
but I will be good, darling mother." 

Miss Matty could not speak for crying, after she had read 
this note. She gave it to me in silence, and then got up and 
took it to her sacred recesses in her own room, for fear, by any 
chance, it might get burnt. "Poor Peter!" she said; "he 
was always in scapes ; he was too easy. They led him wrong, 
and then left him in the lurch. But he was too fond of mischief. 
He could never resist a joke. Poor Peter ! " 



CHAPTER VI. 

POOR PETER. 

Poor Peter's career lay before him rather pleasantly mapped 
out by kind friends, but Bonus Bernardus non videt omnia, in 
this map too. He was to win honours at Shrewsbury School, 
and carry them thick to Cambridge, and after that, a living 
awaited him, the gift of his godfather. Sir Peter Arley. Poor 
Peter 1 his lot in life was very different to what his friends had 
hoped and planned. Miss Matty told me all about it, and I 
think it was a relief to her when she had done so. 

He was the darling of his mother, who seemed to dote on all 
her children, though she was, perhaps, a little afraid of Deborah's 



58 CRANFORD. 

superior acquirements. Deborah was the favourite of her 
father, and when Peter disappointed hi in, she Vjecame his pride. 
The sole honour Peter brought away from Shrewsbury was the 
reputation of being the best good fellow that ever was, and of 
being the captain of the school in the art of practical joking. 
His father was disappointed, but set about remedying the 
matter in a manly way. He could not afford to send Peter 
to read with any tutor, but he could read with him himself; 
and Miss Matty told me much of the awful preparations in the 
way of dictionaries and lexicons that were made in her father's 
study the morning Peter began. 

" My poor mother ! " said she. " I remember how she used 
to stand in the hall, just near enough the study-door, to catch 
the tone of my father's voice. I could tell in a moment if all 
was going right, by her face. And it did go right for a long 
time." 

"What went wrong at last?" said I. "That tiresome 
Latin, I dare say." 

" No ! it was not the Latin. Peter was in high favour with 
my father, for he worked up well for him. But he seemed to 
think that the Cranford people might be joked about, and 
made fun of, and they did not hke it ; nobody does. He was 
always hoaxing them ; ' hoaxing ' is not a pretty word, my 
dear, and I hope you won't tell your father I used it, for I 
should not like him to think that I was not choice in my 
language, after living with such a woman as Deborah. And 
be sure you never use it yourself. I don't know how it slipped 
out of my mouth, except it was that I was thinking of poor 
Peter, and it was always his expression. But he was a very 
gentlemanly boy in many things. He was like dear Captain 
Brown in always being ready to help any old person or a child. 
Still, he did like joking and making fun ; and he seemed to 
think the old ladies in Cranford would believe any tiling. There 
were many old ladies living here then ; we are principally ladies 
now, I know, but we are not so old as the ladies used to be 
when I was a girl. I could laugh to think of some of Peter's 
jokes. No, my dear, I won't tell you of them, because they 
might not shock you as they ought to do, and they were very 
shocking. He even took in my father once, by dressing himself 
up as a lady that was passing through the town and wished to 
see the Rector of Cranford, ' who had pubhshed that adnvlrable 



POOR PETER. 59 

Assize Sermon.' Peter said he was awfully frightened himself 
when he saw how my father took it all in, and even offered to 
copy out all his Napoleon Buonaparte sermons for her — him, 
I mean — no, her, for Peter was a lady then. He told me he 
was more terrified than he ever was before, all the time my 
father was speaking. He did not think my father would have 
believed him ; and yet if he had not, it would have been a sad 
thing for Peter. As it was, he was none so glad of it, for my 
father kept him hard at work copying out all those twelve 
Buonaparte sermons for the lady — that was for Peter himself, 
you know. He was the lady. And once when he wanted to go 
fishing, Peter said, ' Confound the woman ! ' — very bad language, 
my dear, but Peter was not always so guarded as he should have 
been; my father was so angry with him, it nearly frightened 
me out of my wits : and yet I could hardly keep from laughing 
at the little curtseys Peter kept making, quite slyly, whenever 
my father spoke of the lady's excellent taste and sound dis- 
crimination." 

"Did Miss Jenkyns know of these trfcks?" said I. 

"Oh,- no! Deborah would have been too much shocked. 
No, no one knew but me. I wish I had always known of 
Peter's plans ; but sometimes he did not tell me. He used to 
say the old ladies in the town wanted something to talk about ; 
but I don't think they did. They had the S^. James s 
Chronicle three times a week, just as we have now, and we 
have plenty to say ; and I remember the clacking noise there 
always was when some of the ladies got together. But, pro- 
bably, schoolboys talk more than ladies. At last there was 
a terrible, sad thing happened." Miss Matty got up, went 
to the door.and opened it; no one v/as there. She rang the 
bell for Martha, and when Martha came, her mistress told her 
to go for eggs to a farm at the other end of the town. 

" I will lock the door after you, Martha. You are not afraid 
to go, are you? " 

" No, ma'am, not at all ; Jem Hearn will be only too proud 
to go with me." 

Miss Matty drew herself up, and as soon as we were alone, 
she wished that Martha had more maidenly reserve. 

"We'll put out the candle, my dear. We can talk just as 
well by firelight, you know. There! Well, you see, Deborah 
had gone from home for a fortnight or so ; it was a very still. 



Co CRANFORD. 

quiet day, I remember, overhead ; and the lilacs were all in 
flower, so I suppose it was spring. My father had gone out 
to see some sick people in the parish ; I recollect seeing him 
leave the house with his wig and shovel-hat and cane. What 
possessed our poor Peter I don't know ; he had the sweetest 
temper, and yet he always seemed to like to plague Deborah. 
She never laughed at his jokes, and thought him ungenteel, and 
not careful enough about improving his mind ; and that vexed 
him. 

"Well! he went to her room, it seems, and dressed himself 
in her old gown, and shawl, and bonnet; just the things she 
used to wear in Cranford, and was known by everywhere ; and 
he made the pillow into a little — you are sure you locked the 
door, my dear, for I should not like any one to hear — into — into 
a little baby, with white long clothes. It was only, as he told 
me afterwards, to make something to talk about in the town ; 
he never thought of it as affecting Deborah. And he went and 
walked up and down in the Filbert walk — ^just half-hidden by 
the rails, and half-seen ; and he cuddled his pillow, just like 
a baby, and talked to it all the nonsense people do. Oh dear ! 
and my father came stepping stately up the street, as he always 
did ; and what should he see but a little black crowd of people 
^I dare say as many as twenty— all peeping through his garden 
rails. So he thought, at first, they were only looking at a new 
rhododendron that was in full bloom, aud that he was very 
proud of; and he walked slower, that they inight have more 
time to admire. And he wondered if he could make out a 
sermon from the occasion, and thought, perhaps, there was 
some relation between the rhododendrons and the lilies of the 
field. My poor father ! When he came nearer, he began to 
wonder that they did not see him ; but their heads were all so 
close together, peeping and peeping ! My father was amongst 
them, meaning, he said, to ask them to walk into the garden 
with him, and admire the beautiful vegetable production, when 
—oh, my dear ! I tremble to think of it— he looked through the 
rails himself, and saw— I don't know what he thought he saw, 
but old Clare told me his face went quite grey-white with anger, 
and his eyes blazed out under his frowning black brows ; and 
he spoke out — oh, so terribly ! — and bade them all stop where 
they were — not one of them to go, not one to stir a step ; and, 
swift as light, he was in at the garden door, and down the 



POOR PETER. 6 1 

Filbert walk, and seized hold of poor Peter, and tore his clothes 
off his back — bonnet, shawl, gown, and all— and threw the 
pillow among the people over the railings : and then he was 
very, very angry indeed, and before all the people he lifted up 
his cane and flogged Peter ! 

"My dear, that boy's trick, on that sunny day, when all 
seemed going straight and well, broke my mother's heart, and 
changed riiy father for life. It did, indeed. Old Clare said, 
Peter looked as white as my father ; and stood as still as a 
statue to be flogged ; and my father struck hard ! When ray 
father stopped to take breath, Peter said, 'Have you done 
enough, sir?' quite hoarsely, and still standing quite quiet. 
I don't know what my father said— or if he said anything. But 
old Clare said, Peter turned to where the people outside the 
railing were, and made them a low bow, as grand and as grave 
as any gentleman ; and then walked slowly into the house. I 
was in the store-room helping my mother to make cowslip wine. 
I cannot abide the wine now, nor the scent of the flowers ; they 
turn me sick and faint, as they did that day, when Peter came 
in, looking as haughty as any man — indeed, looking like a man, 
not like a boy. 'Mother!' he said, 'I am come to say, God 
bless you for ever.' I saw his lips quiver as he spoke; and 
I think he durst not say anything more loving, for the purpose 
that was in his heart. She looked at him rather frightened, and 
wondering, and asked him what was to do. He did not smile 
or speak, but put his arms round her and kissed her as if he 
did not know how to leave off; and before she could speak 
again, he was gone. We talked it over, and could not under- 
stand it, and she bade me go and seek my father, and ask what 
it was all about. I found him walking up and down, looking 
very highly displeased. 

" ' Tell your mother I have flogged Peter, and that he richly 
deserved it.' 

" I durst not ask any more questions. When I told my mother, 
she sat down, quite faint, for a minute. I remember, a few days 
after, I saw the poor, withered cowslip flowers thrown out to the 
leaf heap, to decay and die there. There was no making of 
cowshp wine that year at the rectory — nor, indeed, ever after. 

" Presently my mother went to my father. I know I thought 
of Queen Esther and King Ahasuerus ; for my mother was very 
pretty and delicate-looking, and my father looked as terrible as 



62 CRANFORD. 

King Aliasuerus. Some lime after they came out together ; and 
then my mother told me what had happened, and that she was 
going up to Peter's room at my father's desire — though she was 
not to tell Peter this — to talk the matter over with him. But no 
Peter was there. We looked over the house ; no Peter was there I 
Even my fatlaer, who had not liked to join in the search at first, 
helped us before long. The rectory was a very old house — 
steps up into a room, steps down into a room, all through. At 
first, niy mother went calhng low and soft, as if to reassure the 
poor boy, ' Peter ! Peter, dear ! it's only me ; ' but, by-and-by, 
as the servants came back from the errands my father had sent 
them, in different directions, to find where Peter was — as we found 
he was not in the garden, nor the hayloft, nor anywhere about — 
my mother's cry grew louder and wilder, * Peter ! Peter, my 
darling ! where are you?' for then she felt and understood that 
that long kiss meant some sad kind of * good-bye.' The afternoon 
went on — my mother never resting, but seeking again and again 
in every possible place that had been looked into twenty times 
before, nay, that she had looked into over and over again herself. 
My father sat with his head in his hands, not speaking except 
when his messengers came in, bringing no tidings ; then he lifted 
up his face, so strong and sad, and told them to go again in 
some new direction. My mother kept passing from room to 
room, in and out of the house, moving noiselessly, but never 
ceasing. Neither she nor my father durst leave the house, 
which was the meeting-place for all the messengers. At last 
(and it was nearly dark), my father rose up. He took hold of 
my mother's arm as she came with wild, sad pace through one 
door, and quickly towards another. She started at the touch of 
his hand, for she had forgotten all in the world but Peter. 

" ' Molly ! ' said he, ' I did not think all this would happen.' 
He looked into her face for comfort — her poor face, all wild and 
wliite ; for neither she nor my father had dared to acknow- 
ledge — much less act upon — the terror that was in their hearts, 
lest Peter should have made away with himself. My father saw 
no conscious look in his wife's hot, dreary eyes, and he missed 
the sympathy that she had always been ready to give him — strong 
man as he was, and at the dumb despair in her face his tears 
began to flow. But when she saw this, a gentle sorrow came 
over her countenance, and she said, ' Dearest John ! don't cry ; 
come with me, and we'll find him,' almost as cheerfully as if she 



POOR PETER. 63 

knew where lie was. And she took my father's great hand in 
her httle soft one and led him along, the tears dropping as he 
walked on that same unceasing, weary walk, from room to room, 
through house and garden. 

"Oh, how I wished for Deborah ! I had no time for crying, for 
new all seemed to depend on me. I wrote for Deborah to come 
home. I sent a message privately to that same Mr. Holbrook's 
house — poor Mr. Holbrook ; — you know who I mean. I don't 
mean I sent a message to him, but I sent one that I could trust 
to know if Peter was at his house. For at one time Mr. 
Plolbrook was an occasional visitor at the rectory — you know he 
was Miss Pole's cousin— and he had been very kind to Peter, 
and taught him how to fish — he was very kind to everybody, and 
I thought Peter might have gone off there. But Mr. Holbrook 
was from home, and Peter had never been seen. It was night 
now ; but the doors were all wide open, and my father and 
mother walked on and on ; it was more than an hour since he had 
joined her, and I don't believe they had ever spoken all that time. 
I was getting the parlour fire lighted, and one of the servants 
was preparing tea, for I wanted them to have something to 
eat and drink and warm them, when old Clare asked to speak 
to me. 

" ' I have borrowed the nets from the weir. Miss Matty. Shall 
we drag the ponds to-night, or wait for the morning? ' 

" I remember staring in his face to gather his meaning ; and 
when I did, I laughed out loud. The horror of that new thought 
— our bright, darhng Peter, cold, and stark, and dead ! I remem- 
ber the ring of my own laugh now. 

" The next day Deborah was at home before I was myself again. 
She would not have been so weak as to give way as I had done ; 
but my screams (my horrible laughter had ended in crying) had 
roused my sweet dear mother, whose poor wandering wits were 
called back and collected as soon as a child needed her care. 
She and Deborah sat by my bedside ; I knew by the looks of 
each that there had been no news of Peter— no awful, ghastly 
news, which was what I most had dreaded in my dull state 
between sleeping and waking. 

" The same result of all the searching had brought something 
of the same relief to my mother, to whom, I am sure, the thought 
that Peter might even then be hanging dead in some of the 
familiar home places had caused that never-ending walk of 



64 CRANFORD. 

yesterday. Her soft eyes never were the same again after that ; 
they had always a restless, craving look, as if seeking for what 
they could not find. Oh ! it was an awful time ; coming down 
like a thunderbolt on the still sunny day when the lilacs were all 
in bloom." 

" Where was Mr. Peter?" said I. 

"He had made his way to Liverpool; and there was war 
then ; and some of the king's ships lay off the mouth of the 
Mersey ; and they were only too glad to have a fine likely boy 
such as him (five foot nine he was) come to offer himself. The 
captain wrote to my father, and Peter wrote to my mother. 
Stay ! those letters will be somewhere here." 

We lighted the candle, and found the captain's letter and 
Peter's too. And we also found a little simple begging letter 
from Mrs. Jenkyns to Peter, addressed to him at the house of 
an old schoolfellow, whither she fancied he might have gone. 
They had returned it unopened ; and unopened it had remained 
ever since, having been inadvertently put by among the other 
letters of that time. This is it : — ■ 

"My dearest Peter,— You did not think we should be so 
sorry as we are, I know, or you would never have gone away. 
You are too good. Your father sits and sighs till my heart 
aches to hear him. He cannot hold up his head for grief; and 
yet he only did what he thought was right. Perhaps he has 
been too severe, and perhaps I have not been kind enough ; 
but God knows how we love you, my dear only boy. Don 
looks so sorry you are gone. Come back, and make us happy, 
who love you so much. I know you will come back." 

But Peter did not come back. That spring day was the last 
time he ever saw his mother's face. The writer of the letter — 
the last — the only person who had ever seen what was written 
in it, was dead long ago ; and I, a stranger, not born at the 
time when this occurrence took place, was the one to open it. 

The captain's letter summoned the father and mother to 
Liverpool instantly, if they wished to see their boy ; and, by 
some of the wild chances of hfe, the captain's letter had been 
detained somewhere, somehow. 

Miss Matty went on, "And it was race-time, and all the 
post-horses at Cranford were gone to the races ; but my father 



POOR PETER. 65 

and mother set off in our own gig — and oh ! my dear, they 
were too late — the ship was gone ! And now read Peter's letter 
to my mother ! " 

It was full of love, and sorrow, and pride in his new pro- 
fession, and a sore sense of his disgrace in the eyes of the people 
at Cranford ; but ending with a passionate entreaty that she 
would come. and see him before he left the Mersey : " Mother ; 
we may go into battle. I hope we shall, and lick those French : 
but I must see you again before that time." 

"And she was too late," said Miss Matty ; " too late ! " 

We sat in silence, pondering on the full meaning of those sad, 
sad words. At length I asked Miss Matty to tell me how her 
mother bore it. 

"Oh!" she said, "she was patience itself. She had never 
been strong, and this weakened her terribly. My father used 
to sit looking at her : far more sad than she was. He seemed 
as if he could look at nothing else when she was by ; and he 
was so humble — so very gentle now. He would, perhaps, speak 
in his old way — laying down the law, as it were — and then, in a 
minute of two, he would come round and put his hand on our 
shoulders, and ask us in a low voice, if he had said anything to 
hurt us. I did not wonder at his speaking so to Deborah, for 
she was so clever ; but I could not bear to hear him talking so 
to me. 

"But, you see, he saw what we did not — that it was killing 
my mother. Yes ! killing her (put out the candle, my dear ; i 
can talk better in the dark), for she was but a frail woman, and 
ill-fitted to stand the fright and shock she had gone through; 
and she would smile at him and comfort him, not in words, but 
in her looks and tones, which were always cheerful when he was 
there. And she would speak of how she thought Peter stood & 
good chance of being admiral very soon — he was so brave and 
clever ; and how she thought of seeing him in his navy uniform., 
and what sort of hats admirals wore ; and how much more fit. 
he was to be a sailor than a clergyman ; and all in that way,, 
just to make my father think she v/as quite glad of what caiiM; 
of that unlucky morning's work, and the flogging which was 
always in his mind, as we all knew. But oh, my dear ! ihs 
bitter, bitter crying she had when she was alone ; and at last, :as 
she grew weaker, she could not keep her tears in when Deborali 
or me was bv, and would give us message after messaq-e fee- 



66 CRANFORD. • 

Peter (his ship had gone to the ^Mediterranean, or somewhere 
down there, and then he was ordered off to India, and there was 
no overland route then) ; but she still said that no one knew 
where their death lay in wait, and that we were not to think 
hers was near. We did not think it, but we knew it, as we saw 
her fading away. 

"Well, my dear, it's very foolish of me, I know, when in all 
likelihood I am so near seeing her again. 

"And only think, love ! the very day after her death— for she 
did not live quite a twelvemonth after Peter went away — the 
very day after — came a parcel for her from India — from her 
poor boy. It was a large, soft, white India shawl, with just a 
little narrow border all round ; just what my mother would 
have liked. 

"We thought it might rouse my father, for he had sat with 
her hand in his all night long ; so Deborah took it in to him, 
and Peter's letter to her, and all. At first, he took no notice ; 
and we tried to make a kind of light careless talk about the 
shawl, opening it out and admiring it. Then, suddenly, he got 
up, and spoke : ' She shall be buried in it,' he said ; ' Peter 
shall have that comfort ; and she would have liked it.* 

"Well, perhaps it was not reasonable, but what could we do 
or say? One gives people in grief their own way. He took it 
up and felt it : 'It is just such a shawl as she wished for when 
she was married, and her mother did not give it her. I did not 
know of it till after, or she should have had it — she should ; but 
she shall have it now.' 

" My mother looked so lovely in her death ! She was always 
pretty, and now she looked fair, and waxen, and young — younger 
than Deborah, as she stood trembling and shivering by her. 
W^e decked her in the long soft folds ; she lay smiling, as if 
pleased ; and people came — all Cranford came — to beg to see 
her, for they had loved her dearly, as well they might ; and the 
countrywomen brought posies ; old Clare's wife brought some 
white violets and begged they might lie on her breast. 

" Deborah said to me, the day of my mother's funeral, that if 
she had a hundred offers she never would marry and leave my 
father. It was not very likely she would have so many — I don't 
know that she had one ; but it was not less to her credit to say 
so. She was such a daughter to my father as I think there 
never was before or since. His eyes failed him, and she read 



POOR PETER. Cj^ 

book after book, and wrote, and copied, and was always at his 
service in any parish business. She could do many more things 
than my poor mother could ; she even once wrote a letter to the 
bishop for my father. But he missed my mother sorely ; the 
whole parish noticed it. Not that he was less active ; I think 
he was more so, and more patient in helping every one. I did 
all I could to set Deborah at liberty to be with him ; for I knew 
I was good for little, and that my best work in the world was to 
do odd jobs quietly, and set others at liberty. But my father 
was a changed man." 

'' Did Mr. Peter ever come home?" 

"Yes, once. He came home a lieutenant ; he did not get to 
be admiral. And he and my father were such friends ! My 
father took him into every house in the parish, he was so proud 
of him. He never walked out without Peter's arm to lean upon. 
■ Deborah used to smile (I don't think v/e ever laughed again after 
my mother's death), and say she was quite put in a corner. 
Not but what my father always wanted her when there wris 
letter-writing or reading to be done, or anything to be 
settled.'; 

" And then?" said I, after a pause. 

"Then Peter went to sea again ; and, by-and-by, my father 
died, blessing us both, and thanking Deborah for all she had 
been to him ; and, of course, our circumstances were changed ; 
and, instead of living at the rectory, and keeping three maids 
and a man, we had to come to this small house, and be content 
with a servant-of-all-work ; but, as Deborah used to say, we 
have always lived genteelly, even if circumstances have com- 
pelled us to simplicity. Poor Deborah ! " 

"And Mr. Peter?" asked I. 

" Oh, there v/as some great war in India — I forget what they 
call it — and we have never heard of Peter since then. I believe 
he is dead myself ; and it sometimes fidgets me that we have 
never put on mourning for him. And then again, when I sit 
by myself, arid all the house is still, I think I hear his step 
coming up the street, and my heart begins to flutter and beat ; 
but the sound always goes past — and Peter never comes." 

" That's Martha back ? No ! 1 '11 go, my dear ; I can always 
find ray way in the dark, you know. And a blow of fresh air 
at th.e door v/ill do my head good, and it's rather got a trick 
ofachin.f-." 



68 CRANFORD. 

^ So she pattered off. I had hghted the candle, to give the 
room a cheerful appearance against her return. 

" Was it Martha?" asked I. 

"Yes. And I am rather uncomfortable, fori heard such a 
strange noise, just as I was opening the door." 

" Where?" I asked, for her eyes were round with affright. 

" In the street — ^just outside — it sounded like" 

" Talking?" I put in, as she hesitated a little. 

' ' No ! kissino^ " 



CHAPTER VII. 



One morning, as Miss Matty and I sat at our work — it was 
before twelve o'clock, and Miss Matty had not changed the cap^ 
with yellow ribbons that had been Miss Jenkyns's best, and 
which Miss Matty was now wearing out in private, putting on 
the one made in imitation of Mrs. Jamieson's at all times when 
she expected to be seen — Martha came up, and asked if Miss 
Betty Barker might speak to her mistress. Miss Matty assented, 
and quickly disappeared to change the yellow ribbons, while 
Miss Barker came upstairs ; but, as she had forgotten her 
spectacles, and was rather flurried by the unusual time of the 
visit, I was not surprised to see her return with one cap on the 
top of the other. She was quite unconscious of it herself, and 
looked at us with bland satisfaction. Nor do I think Miss 
Barker perceived it ; for, putting aside the little circumstance 
that she was not so young as she had been, she was very much 
absorbed in her errand, which she delivered herself of with an 
oppressive modesty that found vent in endless apologies. 

Miss Betty Barker was the daughter of the old clerk at Cran- 
ford who had officiated in Mr. Jenkyns's time. She and her 
sister had had pretty good situations as ladies' maids, and had 
saved money enough to set up a milliner's shop, which had 
been patronised by the ladies in the neighbourhood. Lady 
Arley, for instance, would occasionally give Miss Barkers the 
pattern of an old cap of hers, which they immediately copied 



VISITING. 69 

and circulated among the ilite of Cranford. I say the dite, for 
Miss Barkers had caught the trick of the place, and piqued 
themselves upon their "aristocratic connection." They would 
not sell their caps and ribbons to any one without a pedigree. 
Many a farmer's wife or daughter turned away huffed from Miss 
Barkers' select millinery, and went rather to the universal shop, 
where the profits of brown soap and moist sugar enabled the 
proprietor to go straight to (Paris, he said, until he found his 
customers too patriotic and John Bullish to wear what the 
Mounseers wore) London, where, as he often told his customers, 
Queen Adelaide had appeared, only the very week before, in a 
cap exactly like the one he showed them, trimmed with yellow 
and blue ribbons, and had been complimented by King William 
on the becoming nature of her head-dress. 

Miss Barkers, who confined themselves to truth, and did not 
approve of miscellaneous customers, throve notwithstanding. 
They were self-denying, good people. Many a time have I 
seen the eldest of them (she that had been maid to Mrs. 
Jamieson) carrying out some dehcate mess to a poor person. 
They only aped their betters in having "nothing to do" with 
the class immediately below theirs. And when Miss Barker 
died, their profits and income were found to be such that Miss 
Betty was justified in shutting up shop and retiring from 
business. She also (as I think I have before said) set up her 
cow ; a mark of respectability in Cranford almost as decided 
as setting up a gig is among some people. She dressed finer 
than any lady in Cranford ; and we did not wonder at it ; for it 
was understood that she was wearing out all the bonnets and 
caps and outrageous ribbons which had once formed her stock- 
in-trade. It was five or six years since she had given up shop, 
so in any other place than Cranford her dress might have been 
considered passde. 

And now Miss Betty Barker had called to invite Miss Matty 
to tea at her house on the following Tuesday. She gave me 
also an impromptu invitation, as I happened to be a visitor — ■ 
though I could see she had a little fear lest, since my father had 
gone to live in Drumble, he might have engaged in that " horrid 
cotton trade," and so dragged his family down out of " aristo- 
cratic society." She prefaced this invitation with so many 
apologies that she quite excited my curiosity. " Her presump- 
tion " was to be excused. What had she been doing? She 



70 CRANFORD. 

sesmed so overpowered by it, I could only think that she had 
been writing to Queen Adelaide to ask for a receipt for washing 
lace ; but the act which she so characterised was only an in- 
vitation she had carried to her sister's former mistress, Mrs. 
Jamieson. " Her former occupation considered, could Miss 
Matty excuse the liberty?" Ah ! thought I, she has found out 
that double cap, and is going to rectify Miss Matty's head-dress. 
No ! it was simply to extend her invitation to Miss Matty and 
to me. Miss Matty bowed acceptance ; and I wondered that, 
in the graceful action, she did not feel the unusual weight and 
extraordinary height of her head-dress. But I do not think she 
did, for she recovered her balance, and went on talking to Miss 
Betty in a kind, condescending manner, very different from the 
fidgety way she would have had if she had suspected how 
singular her appearance was. 

"Mrs. Jamieson is coming, I think you said?" asked Miss 
Matty. 

"Yes. Mrs. Jamieson most kindly and condescendingly 
said she would be happy to come. One little stipulation she 
made, that she should bring Carlo. I told her that if I had a 
weakness, it was for dogs. " 

"And Miss Pole ? " questioned Miss Matty, who was thinking 
of her pool at Preference, in which Carlo would not be avail- 
able as a partner. 

"I am going to ask Miss Pole. Of course, I could not 
til ink of asking her until I had asked you, madam — the rector's 
daughter, madam. Believe me, I do not forget the situation 
my father held under yours." 

"And Mrs. Forrester, of course?" 

"And Mrs. P'orrester. I thought, in fact, of going to her 
before I went to Miss Pole. Although her circumstances are 
changed, madam, she was born at Tyrrell, and we can never 
forget her alliance to the Bigges, of Bigelov/ Hall." 

Miss ivTatty cared much more for the little circumstance of 
her being a very good card-player. 

"Mrs, Fitz-Adam— I suppose" 

"No, madam. I must draw a line somewhere. Mrs. Jamie- 
son would not, I tliink, like to meet Mrs. Fitz-Adam. I have 
the greatest respect for ]\Irs. Fitz-Adam — ]mt I cannot think 
her fit society for such ladies as I\Irs. Jamieson and Miss 
Matilda Jenkyns." 



VISITING. "]! 

Miss Betty Barker bowed low to Miss Matty, and pursed up 
her mouth. She looked at me with sidelong dignity, as much 
as to say, although a retired milliner, she was no democrat, 
and understood the difference of ranks. 

"May I beg you to come as near half-past six to my little 
dwelling, as possible, Miss Matilda? Mrs. Jamieson dines at 
five, but has kindly promised not to delay her visit beyond that 
time — half-past six." And with a swimming curtsey Miss Betty 
Barker took her leave. 

My prophetic soul foretold a visit that afternoon from Miss 
Pole, who usually came to call on Miss Matilda after any event 
— or indeed in sight of any event — to talk it over with her. 

" Miss Betty told me it was to be a choice and select few," 
said Miss Pole, as she and Miss Matty compared notes. 

" Yes, so she said. Not even Mrs. Fitz-Adam." 

Now Mrs. Fitz-Adam was the widowed sister of the Cranford 
surgeon, whom I have named before. Their parents were 
respectable farmers, content with their station. The name 
of these good people was Hoggins. Mr. Hoggins was the 
Cranford doctor now ; we disliked the name and considered it 
coarse ; but, as Miss Jenkyns said, if he changed it to Piggins 
it would not be much better. We had hoped to discover a 
relationship between him and that Marchioness of Exeter whose 
name was Molly Hoggins ; but the man, careless of his own 
interests, utterly ignored and denied any such relationship, 
although, as dear Miss Jenkyns had said, he had a sister called 
Mary, and the same Christian names were very apt to run in 
families. 

Soon after Miss Mary Hoggins married Mr. Fitz-Adam she 
disappeared from the neighbourhood for many years. She did 
not move in a sphere in Cranford society sufficiently high to 
make any of us care to know what Mr. Fitz-Adam was. He 
died and was gathered to his fathers without our ever having 
thought about him at all. And then Mrs. Fitz-Adam re- 
appeared in Cranford ("as bold as a lion," Miss Pole said), a 
well-to-do widow, dressed in rustling black silk, so soon after 
her husband's death that poor Miss Jenkyns was justified in 
the remark she made, that " bombazi:ie would have shown a 
deeper sense of her loss." 

I remember the convocation of ladies who assembled to decide 
whether or not Mrs. Fitz-Adam should be called upon by the 



72 CRANFORD. 

©Id blue-blooded inhabitants of Cranford. She had taken a 
large rambling house, which had been usually considered to 
confer a patent of gentility upon its tenant, because, once upon 
a time, seventy or eighty years before, the spinster daughter of 
an earl had resided in it. I am not sure if the inhabiting this 
bouse was not also believed to convey some unusual power of 
intellect ; for the earl's daughter. Lady Jane, had a sister. Lady 
Anne, who had married a general officer in the time of the 
American war, and this general officer had written one or two 
comedies, which were still acted on the London boards, and- 
which, when we saw them advertised, made us all draw up, and 
feel that Drury Lane was paying a very pretty compliment to 
Cranford. Still, it was not at all a settled thing that Mrs. Fitz- 
Adam was to be visited, when dear Miss Jenkyns died ; and, 
with her, something of the clear knowledge of the strict code of 
gentihty went out too. As Miss Pole observed, "As most of 
the ladies of good family in Cranford were elderly spinsters, or 
widows without children, if we did not relax a little, and become 
less exclusive, by-and-by we should have no society at all." 

Mrs. Forrester continued on the same side. 

"She had always understood that Fitz meant something 
aristocratic ; there was Fitz-Roy — she thought that some of the 
King's children had been called Fitz-Roy ; and there was Fitz- 
Clarence now — they were the children of dear good King 
William the Fourth. Fitz-Adara ! — it was a pretty name, and 
she thought it very probably meant ' Child of Adam.' No one, 
who had not some good blood in their veins, would dare to be 
called Fitz ; there was a deal in a name — she had had a cousin 
who spelt his name with two Httle ffs — ffoulkes — and he always 
looked down upon capital letters, and said they belonged to 
lately-invented families. She had been afraid he would die a 
bachelor, he was so very choice. When he met with a Mrs. 
ffarringdon, at a watering-place, he took to her immediately ; 
and a very pretty genteel v/oman she was — a widow, with a very 
good fortune ; and ' my cousin,' Mr. ffoulkes, married her; and 
it was all owing to her two little ffs." 

Mrs. Fitz-Adam did not stand a chance of meeting with a 
Mr. Fitz-anything in Cranford, so that could not have been her 
motive for settling there. Miss Matty thought it might have 
-been the hope of being admitted into the society of the place, 
which would certainly be a very agreeable rise for ci-devant 



VISITING. "Jl 

Miss Hoggins ; and if this had been her hope it would be cruel 
to disappoint her. 

So everybody called upon Mrs. Fitz-Adam — everybody but 
Mrs. Jamieson, who used to show how honourable she was by 
never seeing Mrs. Fitz-Adam when they met at the Cranford 
parties. There would be only eight or ten ladies in the room, 
and Mrs. Fitz-Adam was the largest of all, and she invariably 
used to stand up when Mrs. Jamieson came in, and curtsey very 
low to her whenever she turned in her direction — so low, in fact, 
that I think Mrs. Jamieson must have looked at the wall above 
her, for she never moved a muscle of her face, no more than if 
she had not seen her. Still Mrs. Fitz-Adam persevered. 

The spring evenings were getting bright and long when three 
or four ladies in calashes met at Miss Barker's door. Do you 
know what a calash is ? It is a covering worn over caps, not 
unhke the heads fastened on old-fashioned gigs ; but sometimes 
it is not quite so large. This kind of head-gear always made 
an awful impression on the children in Cranford ; and now two 
or three left off their play in the quiet sunny little street, and 
gathered in wondering silence round Miss Pole, Miss Matty, 
and myself. We were silent too, so that we could hear loud, 
suppressed whispers inside Miss Barker's house: "Wait, 
Peggy ! wait till I've run upstairs and washed my hands. 
When I cough, open the door ; I'll not be a minute." 

And, true enough it was not a minute before we heard a noise, 
between a sneeze and a crow ; on which the door flew open. 
Behind it stood a round-eyed maiden, all aghast at the honour- 
able company of calashes, who marched in without a word. 
She recovered presence of mind enough to usher us into a small 
room, which had been the shop, but was now converted into a 
temporary dressing-room. There we unpinned and shook our- 
selves, and arranged our features before the glass into a sweet 
and gracious company-face ; and then, bowing backwards with 
"After you, ma'am," we allowed Mrs. Forrester to take pre- 
cedence up the narrow staircase that led to Miss Barker's 
drawing-room. There she sat, as stately and composed as 
though we had never heard that odd-sounding cough, from 
which her throat must have been even then sore and rough. 
Kind, gentle, shabbily-dressed Mrs. Forrester was immediately 
conducted to the second place of honour — a seat arranged 
something like Prince Albert's near the Queen's — good, but 

c 2 



74 CRANFORD. 

not so good. The place of pre-eminence was, of course, re- 
served for the Honourable Mrs. Jamieson, who presently came 
panting up the stairs — Carlo rushing round her on her progress, 
as if he meant to trip her up. 

And now Miss Betty Barker was a proud and happy woman ! 
She stirred the fire, and shut the door, and sat as near to it as 
she could, quite on the edge of her chair. When Peggy came 
in, tottering under the weight of the tea-tray, I noticed that 
Miss Barker was sadly afraid lest Peggy should not keep her 
-distance sufficiently. She and her mistress were on very 
familiar terms in their every-day intercourse, and Peggy 
wanted now to make several little confidences to her, which 
Miss Barker was on thorns to hear, but which she thought it 
her duty, as a lady, to repress. So she turned away from all 
Peggy's asides and signs ; but she made one or two very mal- 
apropos answers to what was said ; and at last, seized with 
a bright idea, she exclaimed, "Poor, sweet Carlo! I'm for- 
getting him. Come downstairs with me, poor ittie doggie, 
and it shall have its tea, it shall ! '" 

In a few minutes she returned, bland and benignant as 
before ; but I thought she had forgotten to give the " poor 
ittie doggie " anything to eat, judging by the avidity with which 
he swallowed down chance pieces of cake. The tea-tray was 
abundantly loaded — I was pleased to see it, I was so hungry ; 
but I was afraid the ladies present might think it vulgarly 
heaped up. I know they would have done at their own houses ; 
but somehow the heaps disappeared here. I saw Mrs. Jamieson 
eating seed-cake, slowly and considerately, as she did every- 
thing ; and I was rather surprised, for I knew she had told us, 
on the occasion of her last party, that she never had it 
in her house, it reminded her so much of scented soap. She 
always gave us Savoy biscuits. However, Mrs. Jamieson v/as 
kindly indulgent to INIiss Barker's want of knowledge of the 
customs of high life ; and, to spare her feelings, ate three large 
pieces of seed-cake, wiih a placid, ruminating expression of 
countenance, not unlike a cow's. 

After tea there was some little demur and difficulty. We 
were six in number ; four could play at Preference, and for the 
other two there was Cribbage. But all, except myself (I was 
rather afraid of the Cranford ladies at cards, for it was the 
most earnest and serious business they ever engaged in), were. 



VISITING. 75 

: anxious to be of the " pool." Even Miss Barker, while declaring 
she did not know Spadille from Manille, was evidently hanker- 
ing to take a hand. The dilemma was soon put an end to by 
a singular kind of noise. If a baron's daughter-in-law could 
ever be supposed to snore, I should have said Mrs. Jamieson 
did so then ; for, overcome by the heat of the room, and 
inclined to doze by nature, t,he temptation of that very com- 
fortable arm-chair had been too much for her, and Mrs. Jamieson 
was nodding.' Once or twice she opened her eyes with an 
effort, and calmly but unconsciously smiled upon us ; but by- 
and-by, even her benevolence was not equal to this exertion, 
and slie was sound asleep. 

"It is very gratifying to me," whispered Miss Barker at the 
card-table to her three opponents, whom, notwithstanding her 
ignorance of the game, she was "basting" most unmercifully 
— " very gratifying indeed, to see how completely Mrs. Jamieson 
feels at home in my poor little dwelling ; she could not have 
paid me a greater compliment." 

Miss Barker provided me with some literature in the shape 
of three or four handsomely-bound fashion-books ten or twelve 
years old, observing, as she put a little table and a candle for 
my especial benefit, that she knew young people liked to look 
at pictures. Carlo lay and snorted, and started at his mistress's 
feet. He, too, was quite at home. 

The card-table was an animated scene to watch ; four ladies' 
heads, with niddle-noddling caps, all nearly meeting over the 
middle of the table in their eagerness to whisper quick enough 
and loud enough : and every now and then came Miss Barker's 
" Hush, ladies ! if you please, hush ! Mrs. Jamieson is asleep." 

It was very difficult to steer clear between Mrs. Forrester's 
deafness and Mrs. Jamieson's sleepiness. But Miss Barker 
managed her arduous task well. She repeated the whisper to 
Mrs. Forrester, distorting her face considerably, in order to 
show, by the motions of her lips, what was said ; and then she 
smiled kindly all round at us, and murmured to herself, " Very 
gratifying, indeed ; I wish my poor sister had been alive to see 
this day." 

Presently the door was thrown wide open ; Carlo started to 
his feet, with a loud snapping bark, and Mrs. Jamieson awoke : 
or, perhaps, she had not been asleep — as she said almost 
directly, the room had been so light she had been glad to keep 



76 CRANFORD. 

her eyes shut, but had been Hstening with great interest to all 
our amusing and agreeable conversation. Peggy came in once 
more, red with importance. Another tray ! " Oh, gentihty !" 
thought I, "can you endure this last shock?" For Miss 
Barker had ordered (nay, I doubt not, prepared, although she 
did say, "Why, Peggy, what have you brought us?" and 
looked pleasantly surprised at the unexpected pleasure) all 
sorts of good things for supper — ^scalloped oysters, potted 
lobsters, jelly, a dish called "little Cupids" (which was in 
great favour with the Cranford ladies, although too expensive 
to be given, except on solemn and state occasions — maccaroons 
sopped in brandy, I should have called it, if I had not known 
its more refined and classical name). In short, we were evi- 
dently to be feasted with all that was sweetest and best ; and 
we thought it better to submit graciously, even at the cost of 
our gentility — which never ate suppers in general, but which, 
like most non-supper-eaters, was particularly hungry on all 
special occasions. 

Miss Barker, in her former sphere, had, I daresay, been 
made acquainted with the beverage they call cherry-brandy. 
We none of us had ever seen such a thing, and rather shrank 
back when she proffered it us — "just a little, leetle glass, ladies ; 
after the oysters and lobsters, you know. Shell-fish are some- 
times thought not very wholesome." We all shook our heads 
like female mandarins ; but, at last, Mrs. Jamieson suffered 
herself to be persuaded, and we followed her lead. It was not 
exactly unpalatable, though so hot and so strong that we 
thought ourselves bound to give evidence that we were not 
accustomed to such things by coughing terribly — almost as 
strangely as Miss Barker had done, before we were admitted 
by Peggy. 

" It's very strong," said Miss Pole, as she put down her 
empty glass ; " I do believe there's spirit in it." 

" Only a little drop — ^just necessary to make it keep," said 
Miss Barker. " You know we put brandy-paper over preserves 
to make them keep. I often feel tipsy myself from eating 
damson tart." 

I question whether damson tart would have opened Mrs. 
Jamieson's heart as the cherry-brandy did ; but she told us of 
a coming event, respecting which she had been quite silent till 
that moment. 



"your ladyship." 'J'J 

" My sister-in-law, Lady Glenmire, is coming to stay with 
me." 

There was a chorus of " Indeed ! " and then a pause. Each 
one rapidly reviewed her wardrobe, as to its fitness to appear 
in the presence of a baron's widow ; for, of course, a series of 
small festivals were always held in Cranford on the arrival of 
a visitor at any of our friends' houses. We felt very pleasantly 
excited on the present occasion. 

Not long after this the maids and the lanterns were announced. 
Mrs. Jamieson had the sedan-chair, which had squeezed itself 
into Miss Barker's narrow lobby with some difficulty, and most 
literally ' ' stopped the way. " It required some skilful manoeuvr- 
ing on the part of the old chairmen (shoemakers by day, but 
when summoned to carry the sedan dressed up in a strange 
old livery — long great-coats, with small capes, coeval with the 
sedan, and similar to the dress of the class in Hogarth's 
pictures) to edge, and back, and try at it again, and finally to 
succeed in carrying their burden out of Miss Barker's front 
door. Then we heard their quick pit-a-pat along the quiet 
little street as we put on our calashes and pinned up our 
gowns ; Miss Barker hovering about us with offers of help, 
which, if she had not remembered her former occupation, and 
wished us to forget it, would have been much more pressing. 



CHAPTER VIIL 

"YOUR LADYSHIP." 

Early the next morning — directly after twelve — Miss Pole 
made her appearance at Miss Matty's. Some very trifling 
piece of business was alleged as a reason for the call ; but 
there was evidently something behind. At last out it came. 

"By the way, you'll think I'm strangely ignorant; but, do 
you really know, I am puzzled how we ought to address Lady 
Glenmire. Do you say, ' Your ladyship,' where you would 
say ' you ' to a common person ? I have been puzzling all 
Jiiorning ; and are we to say ' ]My lady,' insteady of * Ma'am?* 



"jZ CRANFORD. 

Now you knew Lady Arley — will you kindly tell me the most 
correct way of speaking to the peerage?" 

Poor Miss Matty ! she took off her spectacles and she put 
'them on again — but how Lady Arley was addressed, she could 
not remember. 

"It is so long ago," she said. " Dear ! dear ! how stupid I 
am ! I don't think I ever saw her more than twice. I know we 
used to call Sir Peter, 'Sir Peter' — but he came much oftener 
to see us than Lady Arley did. Deborah would have known 
in a minute. 'My lady' — 'your ladyship.' It sounds very 
strange, and as if it was not natural. I never thought of it 
before ; but, now you have named it, I am all in a puzzle." 

It was very certain Miss Pole would obtain no wise decision 
from Miss Matty, who got more bewildered every moment, and 
more perplexed as to etiquettes of address. 

"Well, I really think," said Miss Pole, "I had better just 
go and tell Mrs. Forrester about our little difficulty. One 
sometimes grows nervous ; and yet one would not have Lady 
Glenmire think we were quite ignorant of the etiquettes of high 
life in Cranford." 

" And will you just step in here, dear Miss Pole, as you come 
back, please, and tell me what you decide upon? Whatever 
you and Mrs. Forrester fix upon, will be quite right, I'm sure. 
'Lady Arley,' 'Sir Peter,'" said Miss Matty to herself, trying 
to recall the old forms of words. 

" Who is Lady Glenmire?" asked I. 

" Oh, she's the widow of ]\Ir. Jamieson — that's IMrs. Jamieson's 
late husband, you know — widow of his eldest brother. Mrs. 
Jamieson was a Miss Walker, daughter of Governor Walker. 
'Your ladyship.' My dear, if they fix on that way of speaking, 
you must just let me practise a little on you first, for I shall feel 
so foohsh and hot saying it the first time to Lady Glenmire." 

It was really a relief to Miss Matty when Mrs. Jamieson came 
on a very unpolite errand. I notice that apathetic people have 
more quiet impertinence than others ; and Mrs. Jamieson came 
now to insinuate pretty plainly that she did not particularly 
wish that the Cranford ladies should call upon her sister-in-law. 
I can hardly say how she made this clear ; for I grew very 
indignant and warm, while with slow deliberation she was ex- 
plaining her wishes to Miss Matty, who, a true lady herself, 
could hardly understand the feeling which made Mrs. Jamieson 



"your ladyship." ^(^ 

wish to appear to her noble sister-in-law as if she only visited 
"county" families. Miss Matty remained puzzled and per- 
plexed long after I had found out the object of Mrs. Jamieson's 
visit. 

When she did understand the drift of the honourable lady's 
call, it was pretty to see with what quiet dignity she received 
the intimation thus uncourteously given. She was not in the 
least hurt — she was of too gentle a spirit for that ; nor was she 
exactly conscious of disapproving of Mrs. Jamieson's conduct ; 
but there was something of this feeling in her mind, I am sure, 
v/hich made her pass from the subject to others in a less flurried 
and more composed manner than usual. Mrs. Jamieson was, 
indeed, the more flurried of the two, and I could see she was 
glad to take her leave. 

A little while afterwards Miss Pole returned, red and in- 
dignant. "Well! to be sure! Y^ou've had Mrs. Jamieson 
here, I find from Martha ; and we are not to call on Lady 
Glenmire. Yes ! I met Mrs. Jamieson, half-way between here 
and Mrs. Forrester's, and she told me ; she took me so by 
surprise,' I had nothing to say. I v/ish I had thought of some- 
thing very, sharp and sarcastic ; I dare say I shall to-night. 
And Lady Glenmire is but the widow of a Scotch baron after 
all ! I went on to look at Mrs. Forrester's Peerage, to see who 
this lady was, that is to be kept under a glass case : widow of a 
Scotch peer — never sat in the House of Lords — and as poor as 
Job, I dare say ; and she — fifth daughter of some Mr. Campbell 
or other. You are the daughter of a rector, at any rate, and 
related to the Arleys ; and Sir Peter might have been Viscount 
Arley, every one says." 

Miss Matty tried to soothe Miss Pole, but in vain. That 
lady, usually so kind and good-humoured, was now in a full 
flow of anger. 

"And I went and ordered a cap this morning, to be quite 
ready," said she a.t last, letting out the secret which gave sting 
to Mrs. Jamieson's intimation. " Mrs. Jamieson shall see if it 
is so easy to get me to make fourth at a pool when she has none 
of her fine Scotch relations with her ! " 

In coming out of church, the first Sunday on which Lady 
Glenmire appeared in Cranford, we sedulously talked together, 
and turned our backs on Mrs. Jamieson and her guest. If we 
might not call on her, we would not even look at her, though 



8o • CRANFORD. 

we were dying with curiosity to know what she was Hke. We 
had the comfort of questioning Martha in the afternoon. Martha 
did not belong to a sphere of society whose observation could be 
an implied compliment to Lady Glenmire, and Martha had 
made good use of her eyes. 

"Well, ma'am ! is it the Httle lady with Mrs. Jamieson, you 
mean ? I thought you would like more to know how young Mrs. 
Smith was dressed, her being a bride." (Mrs. Smith was the 
butcher's wife.) 

Miss Pole said, "Good gracious me ! as if we cared about a 
Mrs. Smith ; " but was silent as Martha resumed her speech. 

" The little lady in Mrs. Jamieson's pew had on, ma'am, 
rather an old black silk, and a shepherd's plaid cloak, ma'am, 
and very bright black eyes she had, ma'am, and a pleasant, 
sharp face ; not over young, ma'am, but yet, I should guess, 
younger than Mrs. Jamieson herself. She looked up and down 
the church, like a bird, and nipped up her petticoats, when she 
came out, as quick and sharp as ever I see. I'll tell you what, 
ma'am, she's more like Mrs. Deacon, at the 'Coach and Horses, 
nor any one." 

" Hush, Martha !" said Miss Matty, " that's not respectful." 

" Isn't it, ma'am? I beg pardon, I'm sure; but Jem Hearn 
said so as well. He said, she was just such a sharp, stirring sort 
of a body" 

" Lady," said Miss Pole. 

" Lady — as Mrs. Deacon." 

Another Sunday passed away, and we still averted our eyes 
from Mrs. Jamieson and her guest, and made remarks to our- 
selves that we thought were very severe — almost too much 
so. Miss Matty was evidently uneasy at our sarcastic manner 
of speaking. 

Perhaps by this time Lady Glenmire had found out that Mrs. 
Jamieson's was not the gayest, liveliest house in the world ; 
perhaps Mrs. Jamieson had found out that most of the county 
families were in London, and that those who remained in the 
country were not so alive as they might have been to the circum- 
stance of Lady Glenmire being in their neighbourhood. Great 
events spring out of small causes ; so I will not pretend to say 
what induced Mrs. Jamieson to alter her determination of 
excluding the Cranford ladies, and send notes of invitation all 
round for a small party on the following Tuesday. Mr, Mulliner 



"your ladyship." 8i 

himself brouglit them roimd. He would always ignore the fact 
of there being a back-door to any house, and gave a louder rat- 
tat than his mistress, Mrs. Jamieson. He had three little notes, 
which he carried in a large basket, in order to impress his 
mistress with an idea of their great weight, though they might 
easily have gone into his waistcoat pocket. 

Miss Matty and I quietly decided we would have a previous 
engagement at home : it was the evening on which Miss Matty 
usually made candle-lighters of all the notes and letters of the 
week ; for on Mondays her accounts were always made straight — ' 
not a penny owing from the week before ; so, by a natural 
arrangement, making candle-lighters fell upon a Tuesday evening, 
and gave us a legitimate excuse for declining Mrs. Jamieson's 
invitation. But before our answer was written, in came Miss 
Pole, with an open note in her hand. 

"So !" she said. "Ah ! I see you have got your note, too. 
Better late than never. I could have told my Lady Glenmire she 
would be glad enough of our society before a fortnight was over." 

"Yes," said Miss Matty, "we're asked for Tuesday evening. 
And perhaps you would just kindly bring your work across and 
drink tea with us that night. It is my usual regular time for 
looking "over the last week's bills, and notes, and letters, and 
making candle-lighters of them ; but that does not seem quite 
reason enough for saying I have a previous engagement at 
home, though I meant to make it do. Now, if you would come, 
my conscience would be quite at ease, and luckily the note is not 
written yet." 

I saw Miss Pole's countenance change while Miss Matty was 
speaking. 

" Don't you mean to go then? " asked she. 

"Oh, no!" said Miss Matty quietly. "You don't either, I 
suppose?" 

"I don't know," replied Miss Pole. "Yes, I think I do," 
said she rather briskly ; and on seeing Miss Matty looked 
surprised, she added, "You see, one would not Hke Mrs. 
Jamieson to think that anything she could do, or say, was 
of consequence enough to give offence ; it would be a kind of 
letting down of ourselves, that I, for one, should not like. It 
would be too flattering to Mrs. Jamieson if we allowed her to 
suppose that what she had said affected us a week, nay ten days 
afterwards." 



S2 CRANFORD. 

"Well! I suppose it is wrong to be hurt and annoyed so 
long about anything; and, perhaps, after all, slie did not mean 
to vex us. But I must say, I could not have brought myself to 
say the things Mrs. Jamieson did about our not calling. I really 
don't think I shall go." 

" Oh, come ! Miss Matty, you iTust go ; you know our friend 
Mrs. Jamieson is much more phlegni;i:ic than most people, and 
does not enter into the little delicacies of feehng which you possess 
in so remarkable a degree." 

" I thought you possessed them, too, that day IVIrs. Jamieson 
called to tell us not to go," said Miss -Jatty innocently. 

But Miss Pole, in addition to her delicacies of feehng, 
possessed a very smart cap, which she was anxious to show to 
an admiring world ; and so she seemed to forget all her angry 
words uttered not a fortnight before, and to be ready to act on 
what she called the great Christian principle of " Forgive and 
forget ; "■ and she lectured dear Miss Matty so long on this head 
that she absolutely ended by assuring her it was her duty, as 
a deceased rector's daughter, to buy a new cap and go to the 
p:irty at Mrs. Jamieson's. So " we were most happy to accept," 
instead of " regretting that we were obliged to dechne," 

The expendittire on dress in Cranford was principally in that 
one article referred to. If the heads were buried in smart new 
caps, the ladies were like ostriches, and cnred not what became 
of their bodies. Old gowns, white and venerable collars, any 
number of brooches, up and down and everywhere (some with 
dogs' eyes painted in them ; some that were like small picture- 
frames with mausoleums and weeping-willows neatly executed 
in hair inside ; some, again, with miniatures of ladies and 
gentlemen sweetly smiling out of a nest of stiff muslin), old 
brooches for a permanent ornamiCnt, and new caps to suit the 
fasliion of the day — the ladies of Cranford always dressed with 
chnste elegance and propriety, as Miss Barker once prettily 
expressed it. 

And with three new caps, and a greater array of brooches 
than had ever been seen together at one time since Cranford 
was a town, did Mrs. Forrester, and Miss Matty, and Miss 
Pole appear on that memorable Tuesday evening. I counted 
seven brooches myself on Miss Pole's dress. Two were fixed 
negligently in her cap (one was a butterfly made of Scotch 
pebbles, which a vivid imagination might believe to be the real 



"your ladyship.'*' '85 

insect) ; one fastened her net neck-kerchief ; one her collar ; 
one ornamented the front of her gown, midway between her 
throat and waist ; and another adorned the point of her 
stomacher. Where the seventh was I have forgotten, but it 
was somewhere about her, I am sure. 

But I am getting on too fast, in describing the dresses of the 
company. I should first relate the gathering on the way to 
Mrs. Jamieson's. That lady lived in a large house just outside 
the town. A road which had known what it was to be a street 
ran right before the house, which opened out upon it without 
any intervening garden or court. Whatever the sun was about, 
he never shone on the front of that house. To be sure, the 
living-rooms were at the back, looking on to a pleasant garden ; 
tlie front windows only belonged to kitchens and housekeepers' 
rooms, and pantries, and in one of them Mr. MuUiner was 
reported to sit. Indeed, looking Askance, we often saw the 
back of a head covered with hair powder, w-hich also extended 
itself over his coat-collar down to his very waist ; and this 
imposing back was always engaged in reading the *S/. James's 
Chronicle, opened wide, which, in some degree, accounted for 
the length of time the said newspaper was in reaching us — 
equal subscribers with Mrs. Jamieson, though, in right of her 
honourableness, she always had the reading of it first. This 
very Tuesday, the delay in forwarding the last number had 
been particularly aggravating ; just when both Miss Pole and 
Miss Matty, the former more especially, had been wanting to 
see it, in order to coach up the Court news ready for the evening's 
interview with aristocracy. Miss Pole told us she had absolutely 
taken time by the forelock, and been dressed by five o'clock, in 
order to be ready if the St. James's Chronicle should come 
in at the last moment — the very St. James s Chrotiicle which 
the powdered head was tranquilly and composedly reading as 
we passed the accustomed window this evening. 

"The impudence of the man!" said Miss Pole, in a low 
indignant whisper. "I should like to ask him whether his 
mistress pays her quarter-share for his exclusive use." 

We looked at her in admiration of the courage of her thought ; 
for Mr. Mulliner was an object of great awe to all of us. He 
seemed never to have forgotten his condescension in coming to 
live at Cranford. ]\liss Jenkyns, at times, had stood forth as 
the undaunted chanrpion of her sex, and spoken to hira on 



-84 CRANFORD. 

terms of equality ; but even Miss Jenkyns could get no higher. 
In his pleasantest and most gracious moods he looked like a 
sulky cockatoo. He did not speak except in gruff monosyllables. 
He would wait in the hall when we begged him not to wait, 
and then look deeply offended because we had kept him there, 
while, with trembling, hasty hands we prepared ourselves for 
appearing in company. 

Miss Pole ventured on a small joke as we went upstairs, 
intended, though addressed to us, to afford Mr. MulHner some 
slight amusement. We all smiled, in order to seem as if we 
felt at our ease, and timidly looked for Mr. MuUiner's sympathy. 
Not a muscle of that wooden face had relaxed ; and we were 
grave in an instant. 

Mrs. Jamieson's drawing-room was cheerful ; the evening 
sun came streaming into it, and the large square window was 
clustered round with flowers. The furniture was white and 
gold ; not the later style, Louis Quatorze, I think they call it, 
all shells and 'twirls ; no, Mrs. Jamieson's chairs and tables had 
not a curve or bend about them. The chair and table legs 
diminished as they neared the ground, and were straight and 
square in all their corners. The chairs were all a-row against 
the walls, with the exception of four or five which stood in a 
circle round the fire. They were railed with white bars across 
the back, and knobbed with gold ; neither the railings nor the 
knobs invited to ease. There was a japanned table devoted to 
literature, on which lay a Bible, a Peerage, and a Prayer-Book. 
There was another square Pembroke table dedicated to the 
Fine Arts, on which were a kaleidoscope, conversation-cards, 
puzzle-cards (tied together to an interminable length with faded 
pink satin ribbon), and a box painted in fond imitation of the 
drawings which decorate tea-chests. Carlo lay on the worsted- 
worked rug, and ungraciously barked at us as we entered. 
Mrs. Jamieson stood up, giving us each a torpid smile of 
welcome, and looking helplessly beyond us at Mr. MuUiner, as 
if she hoped he would place us in chairs, for, if he did not, she 
never could. I suppose he thought we could find our way to 
the circle round the fire, which reminded me of Stonehenge, 
I don't know why. Lady Glenmire came to the rescue of our 
hostess, and, somehow or other, we found ourselves for the 
first time placed agreeably, and not formally, in Mrs. Jamieson's 
house. Lady Glenmire, now we had time to look at her, proved 



"your ladyship." 8$ 

to be a bright little woman of middle age, who had been very- 
pretty in the days of her youth, and who was even yet very 
pleasant-looking. I saw Miss Pole appraising her dress in 
the first five minutes, and I take her word when she said the 
next day — 

"My dear! ten pounds would have purchased every stitch 
she had on — lace and all." 

It was pleasant to suspect that a peeress could be poor, and 
partly reconciled us to the fact that her husband had never sat 
in the House of Lords ; which, when we first heard of it, seemed 
a kind of swindling us out of our respect on false pretences ; a 
sort of " A Lord and No Lord " business. 

We were all very silent at first. We were thinking what we 
could talk about, that should be high enough to interest My 
Lady. There had been a rise in the price of sugar, which, as 
preserving-time was near, was a piece of intelligence to all our 
housekeeping hearts, and would have been the natural topic if 
Lady Glenmire had not been by. But we were not sure if the 
peerage ate preserves — much less knew how they were made. 
At last, Miss Pole, who had always a great deal of courage and 
savoir faire, spoke to Lady Glenmire, who on her part had 
seemed just as much puzzled to know how to break the silence 
as we^ were. 

"Has your ladyship been to Court lately?" asked she; and 
then gave a little glance round at us, half timid and half 
triumphant, as much as to say, "See how judiciously 1 have 
chosen a subject befitting the rank of the stranger." 

" I never was there in rny life," said Lady Glenmire, with a 
broad Scotch accent, but in a very sweet voice. And then, as if 
she had been too abrupt, she added: "We very seldom went 
to London — only twice, in fact, during all my married life ; and 
before I was married my father had far too large a family" (fifth 
daughter of Mr. Campbell was in all our minds, I am sure) " to 
take us often from our home, even to Edinburgh. Ye'll have 
been in Edinburgh, maybe?" said she, suddenly brightening up 
with the hope of a common interest. We had none of us been 
there ; but Miss Pole had an uncle who once had passed a night 
there, which was very pleasant. 

Mrs. Jamieson, meanwhile, was absorbed in wonder why Mr. 
MuUiner did not bring the tea ; and at length the wonder oozed, 
out of her mouth. 



So CRANFORD. 

" I had better ring the bell, my dear, had not I?" said Lady 
Glenmire briskly. 

" No— I think not — Mulliner does not like to be hurried." 

We should have liked our tea, for we dined at an earlier hour 
than Mrs. Jamieson. I suspect Mr. Mulliner had to finish the 
St. James s Chronicle before he chose to trouble himself about 
tea. His mistress fidgeted and fidgeted, and kept saying, "I 
can't think why Mulliner does not bring tea. I can't think 
what he can be about." And Lady Glenmire at last grew 
quite impatient, but it was a pretty kind of impatience after all ; 
and she rang the bell rather sharply, on receiving a half-per- 
mission from her sister-in-law to do so. Mr. Mulliner appeared 
in dignified surprise. " Oh 1 " said Mrs. Jamieson, "Lady 
Glenmire rang the bell ; I believe it was for tea." 

In a few minutes tea was brought. Very delicate was the 
china, very old the plate, very thin the bread and butter, and 
very small the lumps of sugar. Sugar was evidently Mrs. 
Jamieson's favourite economy. I question if the little filigree 
sugar-tongs, made something like scissors, could have opened 
themselves wide enough to take up an honest, vulgar good-sized 
piece ; and when I tried to seize two little minnikin pieces at 
once, so as not to be detected in too many returns to the sugar- 
basin, they absolutely dropped one, with a little sharp clatter, 
quite in a malicious and unnatural manner. But before this 
happened, we had had a slight disappointment. In the little 
silver jug was cream, in the larger one was milk. As soon as 
Mr. Mulliner came in, Carlo began to beg, which was a tlnng 
our manners forbade us to do, though I am sure we were just as 
hungry; and Mrs. Jamieson said she was certain we would 
excuse her if she gave her poor dumb Carlo his tea first. - She 
accordingly mixed a saucerful for him, and put it down for him 
to lap ; and then she told us how intelligent and sensible the 
dear little fellow was ; he knew cream quite well, and constantly 
refused tea with only milk in it : so the milk was left for us ; but 
we silently thought we were quite as intelligent and sensible as 
Carlo, and felt as if insult were added to injury when we were 
called upon to admire the gratitude evinced by his wagging his 
tail for the cream which should have been ours. 

After tea we thawed down into common-life subjects. We 
were thankful to Lady Glenmire for having proposed some 
more bread and butter, and this mutual want made us better 



"your ladyship.'* S^ 

acquainted with her tlian we should ever have been with talk- 
ing about the Coart, though Miss Pole did say she had hoped 
to know how the dear Queen was from some one who had 
seen her. 

The friendship begun over bread and butter extended on to 
cards. Lady Glenmire played Preference to admiration, and 
was a complete authority as to Ombre and Quadrille. Even Miss 
Pole quite forgot to say "my lady," and "your ladyship," and 
said " Basto ! ma'am ; " " you have Spadille, I believe," just as 
quietly as if we had never held the great Cranford parhament on 
the subject of the proper mode of addressing a peeress. 

As a proof of how thoroughly we had forgotten that we were 
in the presence of one who might have sat down to tea with a 
coronet, instead of a cap, on her head, Mrs. Forrester related 
a curious little fact to Lady Glenmire — an anecdote known to 
the circle of her intimate friends, but of which even Mrs. 
Jamieson was not aware. It related to some fine old lace, the 
sole relic of better days, which Lady Glenmire was admiring on 
Mrs. Forrester's collar. 

"Yes," said that lady, "such lace cannot be got now for 
either love or money ; made by the nuns abroad, they tell me. 
They say that they can't make it now, even there. But perhaps 
they can now they've passed the Catholic Emancipation Bill. 
I should not wonder. But, in the meantime, I treasure up my 
lace very much. I daren't even trust the washing of it to my 
maid" (the little charity school-girl I have named before, but 
who sounded well as " my maid"). " I always wash it myself. 
And once it had a narrow escape. Of course, your lad37ship 
knows that such lace must never be starched or ironed. Some 
people wash it in sugar and water, and some in coffee, to make 
it the right yellow colour ; but I myself have a very good receipt 
for washing it in milk, which stiffens it enough, and gives it 
a very good creamy colour. Well, ma'am, I had tacked it 
together (and the beauty of this fine lace is that, when it is wet, 
it goes into a very little space), and put it to soak in milk, when, 
unfortunately, I left the room ; on my return, I found pussy on 
the table, looking very hke a thief, but gulping very uncom- 
fortably, as if she was half-choked with something she wanted 
to swallow and could not. And, would you believe it? At first 
I pitied her, and said ' Poor pussy ! poor pussy ! ' till, all at 
once, I looked and saw the cup of milk empty — cleaned out ! 



55 CRANFORD. 

* You naughty cat ! ' said I ; and I believe I was provoked 
enough to give her a slap, which did no good, but only helped 
the lace down — ^just as one slaps a choking child on the back. 
I could have cried, I was so vexed ; but I determined I would 
not give the lace up without a struggle for it. I hoped the lace 
might disagree with her, at any rate ; but it would have been 
too much for Job, if he had seen, as I did, that cat come in, 
quite placid and purring, not a quarter of an hour after, and 
almost expecting to be stroked. 'No, pussy!' said I, 'if you 
have any conscience you ought not to expect that ! ' And then 
a thought struck me ; and I rang the bell for my maid, and 
sent her to Mr. Hoggins, with my compliments, and would he 
be kind enough to lend me one of his top-boots for an hour ? I 
did not think there was anything odd in the message ; but 
Jenny said the young men in the surgery laughed as if they 
would be ill at my wanting a top-boot. When it came, Jenny 
and I put pussy in, with her fore-feet straight down, so that 
they were fastened, and could not scratch, and we gave her a 
teaspoonful of currant-jelly in which (your ladyship must excuse 
me) I had mixed some tartar emetic. I shall never forget how 
anxious I was for the next half-hour. I took pussy to my own 
room, and spread a clean towel on the floor. I could have 
kissed her when she returned the lace to sight, very much as it 
had gone down. Jenny had boiling water ready, and we 
soaked it and soaked it, and spread it on a lavender-bush in the 
sun before I could touch it again, even to put it in milk. But 
now your ladyship would never guess that it had been in pussy's 
inside." 

We found out, in the course of the evening, that Lady 
Glenmire was going to pay Mrs. Jamieson a long visit, as she 
had given up her apartments in Edinburgh, and had no ties to 
take her back there in a hurry. On the whole, we were rather 
glad to hear this, for she had made a pleasant impression upon 
us ; and it was also very comfortable to find, from things which 
dropped out in the course of conversation, that, in addition to 
many other genteel qualities, she was far removed from the 
" vulgarity of wealth." 

"Don't you find it very unpleasant walking?" asked Mrs. 
Jamieson, as our respective servants were announced. It was a 
pretty regular question from Mrs. Jamieson, who had her own 
carriage in the coach-house, and always went out in a sedan- 



SIGNOR BRUNONI. 09 

chair to the very shortest distances. The answers were nearly 
as much a matter of course. 

" Oh dear, no ! it is so pleasant and still at night ! " " Such 
a refreshment after the excitement of a party!" "The stars 
are so beautiful ! " This last was from Miss Matty. 

" Are you fond of astronomy? " Lady Glenmire asked. 

"Not very," replied Miss Matty, rather confused at the 
moment to remember which was astronomy and which was 
astrology — but the answer w.is true under either circumstance, 
for she read', and was slightly alarmed at Francis Moore's astro- 
logical predictions ; and, as to astronomy, in a private and 
confidential conversation, she had told me she never could 
believe that the earth was moving constantly, and that she 
would not beUeve it if she could, it made her feel so tired and 
dizzy whenever she thought about it. 

In our pattens we picked our way home with extra care that 
night, so refined and delicate were our perceptions after drink- 
ing tea with " my lady." 



CHAPTER IX. 

SIGNOR BRUNONI. 

Soon after the events of which I gave an account in my last 
paper, I was summoned home by my father's illness ; and for a 
time I forgot, in anxiety about him, to wonder how my dear 
friends at Cranford were getting on, or how Lady Glenmire 
could reconcile herself to the dulness of the long visit which she 
was still paying to her sister-in-law, Mrs. Jamieson. When my 
father grew a little stronger I accompanied him to the seaside, 
so that altogether I seemed banished from Cranford, and was 
deprived of the opportunity of hearing any chance intelligence 
of the dear little town for the greater part of that year. 

Late in November — when we had returned home again, and 
my father was once more in good health — I received a letter 
from Miss Matty ; and a very mysterious letter it was. She 
began many sentences without ending them, running them one 



93 CRANFORD. 

hto another, in much the same confused* sort of way in which 
written words run together on blotting-paper. All I could 
mike out was that, if my father was better (which she hoped 
] '. was), and would take warning and wear a great-coat from 
Michaelmas to Lady-day, if turbans were in fashion, could I 
1 U her? Such a piece of gaiety was going to happen as had 
rot been seen or known of since Wombwell's lions came, when 
rne of them ate a little child's arm ; and she was, perhaps, too 
« M to care about dress, but a new cap she must have; and, 
having lieard that turbans were worn, and some of the county 
faip.ilios likely to come, she would like to look tidy, if I would 
bring her a cap from the milliner I employed; and oh, dear ! 
ho'.v careless of her to forget that she wrote to beg I would 
come and pay her a visit next Tuesday ; when she hoped to 
have something to offer me in the way of amusement, v/hich 
slie v/ould not now more particularly describe, only sea-green 
^- IS her favourite colour. So she ended her letter; but in a 
P.S. she added, she thought she might as well tell me what 
v/iio the peculiar attraction to Cranford just now ; Signor 
B; unoni was going to exhibit his wonderful magic in the Cran- 
fo:d Assembly Rooms on Wednesday and Friday evening in the 
following week. 

I was very glad to accept the invitation from my dear Miss 
IMatty, independently of the conjuror, and most particularly 
ar.xious to prevent her from disfiguring her small, gentle, 
mousey face with a great Saracen's head turban ; and accord- 
ingly, I bought her a pretty, neat, middle-aged cap, which, 
however, was rather a disappointment to her when, on my 
arrival, she followed me into my bedroom, ostensibly to poke 
the fire, but in reality, I do believe, to see if the sea-green 
turban was not inside the cap-box with which 1 had travelled. 
It was in vain that I twirled the cap round on my hand to 
exhibit back and side fronts : her heart had been set upon a 
turban, and all she could do was to say, with resignation in 
her look and voice — 

"I am sure you did your best, my dear. It is just like the 
caps all the ladies in Cranford are wearing, and they have had 
theirs for a year, I dare say. I should have hked something 
newer, I confess — something more like the turbans Miss Betty 
Barker tells me Queen Adelaide wears ; but it is very pretty, 
my dear. And I dare say lavender will wear better than sea- 



SIGNOR BRUNONI, 9I 

green. Well, afcer all, what is dress, that we should care 
about it ? You'll tell me if you want anything, my dear. 
Here is the bell. I suppose turbans have not got down to 
Drumble yet?" 

So saying, the dear old lady gently bemoaned herself out of 
the room, leaving me to dress for the evening, when, as she 
informed me, she expected Miss Pole and Mrs. Forrester, and 
she hoped I should not feel myself too much tired to join the 
party. Of course I should not ; and I made some haste to 
unpack and arrange my dress ; but, with all my speed, I heard 
the arrivals and the buzz of conversation in the next room 
before I was ready. Just as I opened the door, I caught the 
words, " I was foolish to expect anything very genteel out of 
the Drumble shops ; poor girl ! she did her best, I've no 
doubt." But, for all that, I had rather that she blamed 
Drumble and me than disfigured herself with a turban. 

Miss Pole was always the person, in the trio of Cranford 
ladies now assembled, to have had adventures. She was in 
the habit of spending the morning in rambling from shop to 
shop, not to purchase anything (except an occasional reel of 
cotton, or a piece of tape), but to see the new articles and 
report upon them, and to collect all the stray pieces of intel- 
hgence in the town. She had a way, too, of demurely popping 
hither and thither into all sorts of places to gratify her curio^^ity 
on any point — a way whicli, if she had not looked so very 
genteel and prim, might have been considered impertinent. 
And now, by the expressive way in which she cleared her 
throat, and waited for all minor subjects (such as caps and 
turbans) to be cleared off the course, we knew she had 
something very particular to relate, when the due pause came 
■ — and I defy any people possessed of common modesty to 
keep up a conversation long, where one among them sits up 
ah. ft in silence, looking down upon all the things they chance 
to say as trivial and contemptible compared to whr^t they couid 
disclose, if properly entreated. Miss Pole began — 

"As I was stepping out of Gordon's shop to-day, I chanced 
to go into the '.George' (my Betty has a second-cousin who is 
chambermaid there, and I thought Betty would like to hear 
Low she wa;), and, not seeing any one about, I strolled up the 
staircase, and found myself in the passage leading to the 
Assembly Room (you and I remember the Assenilily Room, I 



9-2 CRANFORD. 

am sure, Miss Matty ! and the menuets de la cour !) ; so I went 
on, not thinking of wliat I was about, when, all at once, I 
perceived that I was in the middle of the preparations for 
to-morrow night — the room being divided with great clothes- 
maids, over which Crosby's men were tacking red flannel ; very 
dark and odd it seemed ; it quite bewildered me, and I was 
going on behind the screens, in my absence of mind, when a 
gentleman (quite the gentleman, I can assure you) stepped 
forwards and asked if I had any business he could arrange for 
me. He spoke such pretty broken English, I could not help 
thinking of Thaddeus of Warsaw, and the Hungarian Brothers, 
and Santo Sebastian! ; and while I was busy picturing his past 
life to myself, he had bowed me out of the room. But wait a 
minute ! You have not heard half my story yet ! I was going 
downstairs, when who should I meet but Betty's second-cousin. 
So, of course, I stopped to speak to her for Betty's sake ; and 
she told me that I had really seen the conjuror — the gentleman 
who spoke broken English was Signor Brunoni himself. Just 
at this moment he passed us on the stairs, making such a 
graceful bow ! in reply to which I dropped a curtsey — all 
foreigners have such polite manners, one catches something of 
it. But, when he had gone downstairs, I bethought me that I 
had dropped my glove in the Assembly Room (it was safe in my 
muff all the time, but I never found it till afterwards) ; so I 
went back, and, just as I was creeping up the passage left on 
one side of the great screen that goes nearly across the room, 
who should I see but the very same gentleman that had met 
me before, and passed me on the stairs, coming now forwards 
from the inner part of the room, to which there is no entrance 
—you remember. Miss Matty — and just repeating, in his pretty 
broken English, the inquiry if I had any business there — I don't 
mean that he put it quite so bluntly, but he seemed very 
determined that I should not pass the screen— so, of course, I 
explained about my glove, which, curiously enough, I found at 
that very moment." 

Miss Pole, then, had seen the conjuror — the real, live con- 
Juror ! and numerous were the questions we all asked her. 
"Had he a beard?" "Was he young, or old?" "Fair, 
or dark?" "Did he look" — (unable to shape my question 
prudently, I put it in another form) — "How did he look?" 
In short. Miss Pole was the heroine of the evening, owing to 



SIGNOR BRUNONI. 93, 

her morning's encounter. If she was not the rose (that is to. 
say, the conjuror), she had been near it. 

Conjuration, sleight of hand, magic, witchcraft, were the sub- 
jects of the evening. Miss Pole was slightly sceptical, and 
inclined to think there might be a scientific solution found for 
even the proceedings of the Witch of En dor. Mrs. Forrester 
believed everything, from ghosts to death-watches. Miss Matty 
ranged between the two — always convinced by the last speaker. 
I think she was naturally more inclined to Mrs. Forrester's side,. 
but a desire of proving herself a worthy sister to Miss Jenkyns 
kept her equally balanced — Miss Jenkyns, who would never 
allow a servant to call the little rolls of tallow that formed 
themselves round candles "winding-sheets," but insisted on 
their being spoken of as " roley-poleys !" A sister of hers to 
be superstitious ! It would never do. 

After tea, I was despatched downstairs into the dining-parlour 
for that volume of the old Encyclopaedia which contained the 
nouns beginning with C, in order that Miss Pole might prime 
herself with scientific explanations for the tricks of the following 
evening. It spoilt the pool at Preference which Miss Matty 
and Mrs. Forrester had been looking forward to, for Miss Pole 
became so much absorbed in her subject, and the plates by 
which it was illustrated, that we felt it would be cruel to disturb 
her otherwise than by one or two well-timed yawns, which I 
threw in now and then, for I was really touched by the meek 
way in which the two ladies were bearing their disappointment. 
But Miss Pole only read the more zealously, imparting to us no 
more interesting information than this : — 

" Ah ! I see ; I comprehend perfectly. A represents the ball. 
Put A between B and D — no ! between C and F, and turn the 
second joint of the third finger of your left hand over the wrist 
of your right H. Very clear indeed ! My dear Mrs. Forrester, 
conjuring and witchcraft is a mere affair of the alphabet. Do 
let me read you this one passage? " 

Mrs. Forrester implored Miss Pole to spare her, saying, from 
a child upwards, she never could understand being read aloud 
to ; and I dropped the pack of cards, which I had been shuffling 
very audibly, and by this discreet movement I obliged Miss 
Pole to perceive that Preference was to have been the order of 
the evening, and to propose, rather unwillingly, that the pool 
should commence. The pleasant brightness that stole over the 



. 94 GRAN FORD. 

other two ladies' faces on this ! Miss Alatty had one or two 
twinges of self-reproach for having interrupted Miss Pole in her 
studies : and did not remember her cards well, or give her full 
attention to the game, until she had soothed her conscience by 
offering to lend the volume of the Encyclopaedia to Miss Pole, 
who accepted it thankfully, and said Betty should take it home 
when she came with the lantern. 

The next evening we were all in a little gentle flutter at the 
idea of the gaiety before us. Miss Matty went up to dress 
betimes, and hurried me until I was ready, when we found we 
had an hour-and-a-half to wait before the "doors opened at 
seven precisely." And we had only twenty yards to go ! How- 
ever, as Miss Matty said, it would not do to get too mucli 
absorbed in anything, and forget the time ; so she thought we 
had better sit quietly, without lighting the candles, till five 
minutes to seven. So Miss Matty dozed, and I knitted. 

At length we set off; and at the door, under the carriage-way 
at ihe "George," we met Mrs. Forrester and Miss Pole: the 
latter was discussing the subject of the evening with more 
vehemence than ever, and throwing A's and B's at our heads 
like hailstones. She had even copied one or two of the "re- 
ceipts" — as she called them — for the different tricks, on backs 
of letters, ready to explain and to detect Signor Brunoni's 
arts. 

We went into the cloak-room adjoining the Assembly Room ; 
Miss Matty gave a sigh or two to her departed youth, and the 
remembrance of the last time she had been there, as she ad- 
justed her pretty new cap before the strange, quaint old mirror 
in the cloak-room. The Assembly Room had been added to 
the inn, about a hundred years before, by the different county 
families, who met together there once a month during the winter 
to dance and play at cards. Many a county beauty had first 
swung through the minuet that she afterwards danced before 
Queen Charlotte in this very room. It was said that one of the 
Gunnings had graced the apartment with her beauty ; it was 
certain that a rich and beautiful widow, Lady Williams, had 
here been smitten with the noble figure of a young artist, who 
was staying with some family in the neighbourhood for pro- 
fessional purposes, and accompanied his patrons to the Cran- 
ford Assembly. And a pretty bargain poor Lady Williams 
had of her handsome husband, if all tales were true. Now, no 



SIGNOR BRUNONL r ^J 

beatity blushed p.nd dimpled along the sides of the Cranford 
Assembly Room ; no handsome artist won hearts by his bow, ' 
chapeau bras in hand ; the old room was dingy ; the salmon- 
coloured paint had faded into a drab ; great pieces of , plaster 
had chipped off from the white wreaths and festoons on its 
walls ; but still a mouldy odour of aristocracy lingered about 
the place, and a dusty recollection of the da3^5 that were gone 
made Miss Matty and Mrs. Forrester bridle up as they entered, 
and walk mincingly up the room, as if there were a number of 
genteel observers, instead of two little boys with a stick of toffy 
between them with which to beguile the time. 

We stopped short at the second front row ; I could hardly 
, understand why, until I heard Miss Pole ask a stray waiter if any 
of the county families were expected ; and when he shook his 
head, and believed not, Mrs. Forrester and Miss Matty moved 
forwards, and our party represented a conversational square. The 
front row was soon augmented and enriched by Lady Glen mire 
and Mrs. Jamieson. We six occupied the two front rows, and 
our aristocratic seclusion was respected by the groups of shop- 
keepers who strayed in from time to time and huddled together 
on the back benches. At least I conjectured so, from the noise 
they made, and the sonorous bumps they gave in sitting down ; 
but when, in weariness of the obstinate green curtain that would 
not draw up, but would stare at me with two odd eyes, seen 
through holes, as in the old tapestry story, I would fain have 
looked round at the merry chattering people behind me, Miss 
Pole clutched my arm, and begged me not to turn, for "it was 
not the thing." What " the thing" was, I never could find out, 
but it must have been something eminently dull and tiresome. 
However, we all sat e3^es right, square front, gazing at the 
tantahsing curtain, and hardly speaking intelligibly, we were so 
afraid of being caught in the vulgarity of making any noise in 
a place of public amusement. Mrs. Jamieson was the most 
fortunate, for she fell asleep. 

At length the eyes disappeared — the curtain quivered — one 
side went up before the other, which stuck fast ; it was dropped 
again, and, with a fresh effort, and a vigorous pull from some 
unseen hand, it .flew up, revealing to our sight a magnificent 
gentleman in the Turkish costume, seated before a little table, 
gazing at us (I should have said with the same eyes that I had 
last seen through the hole in the curtain) with calm and con- 



g6 CRANFORD. 

descending dignity, " like a being of another sphere," as I heard 
a sentimental voice ejaculate behind me. 

" That's not Signor Brunoni ! " said Miss Pole decidedly : and 
so audibly that I am sure he heard, for he glanced down over his 
flowing beard at our party with an air of mute reproach. 
" Signor Brunoni had no beard — but perhaps he'll come soon." 
So she lulled herself into patience. Meanv/hile, Miss Matty had 
reconnoitred through her eye-glass, wiped it, and looked again. 
Then she turned round, and said to me, in a kind, mild, sorrow- 
ful tone — 

"You see, my dear, turbans are v/ovn/' 

But we had no time for more conversation. The Grand Turk, 
as Miss Pole chose to call him, arose and announced himself as 
Signor Brunoni. 

"I don't believe him!" exclaimed Miss Pole, in a defiant 
manner. He looked at her again, with the same dignified 
upbraiding in his countenance. " I don't ! " she repeated more 
positively than ever. "Signor Brunoni had not got that muffy 
sort of thing about his chin, but looked like a close-shaved 
Christian gentleman." 

Miss Pole's energetic speeches had the good effect of waken- 
ing up Mrs. Jamieson, who opened her eyes wide, in sign of the 
deepest attention — a proceeding which silenced Miss Pole and 
encouraged the Grand Turk to proceed, which he did in very 
broken English— so broken that there was no cohesion between 
the parts of his sentences ; a fact which he himself perceived at 
last, and so left off speaking and proceeded to action. 

Now we were astonished. How he did his tricks I could not 
imagine ; no, not even when Miss Pole pulled out her pieces of 
paper and began reading aloud — or at least in a very audible 
whisper — the separate "receipts" for the most common of his 
tricks. If ever I saw a man frown and look enraged, I saw the 
Grand Turk frown at Miss Pole ; but, as she said, what could 
be expected but unchristian looks from a Mussulman ? If Miss 
Pole were sceptical, and more engrossed with her receipts and 
diagrams than with his tricks, Miss Matty and Mrs. Forrester 
were mystified and perplexed to the highest degree. Mrs. 
Jamieson kept taking her spectacles off and wiping them, as if 
she thought it was something defective in them which made the 
legerdemain ; and Lady Glenmire, who had seen many curious 
sights in Edinburgh, was very much struck with the tricks, and 



SIGNOR BRUNONI. 97 

would not at all agree with Miss Pole, who declared that any- 
body could do them with a little practice, and that she would, 
herself, undertake to do all he did, with two hours given to study 
the Encyclopaedia and make her third finger flexible. 

At last Miss Matty and Mrs. Forrester became perfectly awe- 
stricken. They whispered together. I sat just behind them, so 
I could not help hearing what they were saying. Miss Matty 
asked Mrs. Forrester "if she thought it was quite right to have 
come to see such things? She could not help fearing they were 

lending encouragement to something that was not quite " A 

little shake of the head filled up the blank. Mrs. Forrester 
replied, that the same thought had crossed her mind ; she, too, 
was feeling very uncomfortable, it was so very strange. Sh« 
was quite, certain that it was her pocket-handkerchief which was 
in that loaf just now ; and it had been in her own hand not five 
minutes before. She wondered who had furnished the bread? 
She was sure it could not be Dakin, because he was the church- 
warden. Suddenly Miss Matty half-turned towards me — 

" Will you look, my dear — you are a stranger in the town, and 
it won't give rise to unpleasant reports — will you just look round 
and see if the rector is here? If he is, I think we may conclude 
that this wonderful man is sanctioned by the Church, and that 
will be a great relief to my mind." 

I looked, and I saw the tall, thin, dry, dusty rector, sitting 
surrounded by National School boys, guarded by troops of his 
own sex from any approach of the many Cranford spinsters. His 
kind face was all agape with broad smiles, and the boys around 
him were in chinks of laughing. I told Miss Matty that the 
Church was smiling approval, which set her mind at ease. 

I have never named Mr. Hayter, the rector, because I, as a 
well-to-do and happy young woman, never came in contact with 
him. He was an old bachelor, but as afraid of matrimonial 
reports getting abroad about him as any girl of eighteen : and 
he would rush into a shop, or dive down an entry, sooner than 
encounter any of the Cranford ladies in the street ; and, as for 
the Preference parties, I did not wonder at his not accepting 
invitations to them. To tell the truth, I always suspected Miss 
Pole of having given very vigorous chase to Mr. Hayter when he 
first came to Cranford ; and not the less, because now she 
appeared to share so vividly in his dread lest her name should 
ever be coupled with his. He found all his interests among 

D 



-9o CRANFORD. 

the poor and helpless ; he had treated the National School boys 
this very night to the performance ; and virtue was for once its 
own reward, for they guarded him right and left, and clung 
round him as if he had been the queen-bee and they the swarm. 
He felt so safe in their environment that he could even afford 
to give our party a bow as we filed out. Miss Pole ignored his 
presence, and pretended to be absorbed in convincing us that we 
had been cheated, and had not seen Signer Brunoni after all. 



CHAPTER X. 

THE PANIC. 

I THINK a series of circumstances dated from Signor Brunoni s 
visit to Cranford, which seemed at the time connected in our 
minds with him, though I don't know that he had anything 
really to do with them. All at once all sorts of uncomfortable 
rumours got afloat in the town. There were one or two robberies 
— real bondjide robberies ; men had up before the magistrates 
and committed for trial — and that seemed to make us all afraid 
of being robbed ; and for a long time, at Miss Matty's, I know, 
we used to make a regular expedition all round the kitchens and 
cellars every night, Miss Matty leading the way, armed with 
the poker, I following with the hearth-brusli, and Martha carry- 
ing the shovel and fire-irons with ^^'hich to sound the alarm ; 
and by the accidental hitting together of them she often 
frightened us so much that we bolted ourselves up, all three 
together, in the back-kitchen, or store-room, or wherever we 
happened to be, till, when our affright was over, we recollected 
ourselves, and set out afresh with double valiance. By day we 
heard strange stories from the shopkeepers and cottagers, of 
carts that went about in the dead of night, drawn by horses 
shod with felt, and guarded by men in dark clothes, going 
round the town, no doubt in search of some unwatched house 
or some unfastened door. 

Miss Pole, who affected great bravery herself, was the principal 
person to collect and arrange these reports so as to make them 



. THE PANIC. 99 

assume their most fearful aspect. But we discovered that sl:e 
had begged one of Mr. Hoggins's Avorn-out hats to hang up 
in her lobby, and we (at least I) had doubts as to whether slie 
really would enjoy the little adventure of having her house 
broken into, as she protested she should. Miss Matty made 
no secret of being an arrant coward, but she went regularly 
through her housekeeper's duty of inspection — only the hour 
for this became earlier and earlier, till at last we went the 
rounds at half-past six, and Miss Matty adjourned to bed soon 
after seven, " in order to get the night over the sooner." 

Cranford had so long piqued itself on being an honest and 
moral town that it had grown to fancy itself too genteel and 
well-bred to be otherwise, and felt the stain upon its character 
at this time doubly. But we comforted ourselves with the 
assurance which we gave to each other that the robberies could 
never have been committed by any Cranford person ; it must 
hcive been a stranger or strangers who brought this disgrace 
upon the town, and occasioned as many precautions as if we 
ivere living among tlie R_ed Indians or the French. 

This last comparison of our nightly state of defence and forti- 
ncation was made by Mrs. Forrester, whose father had served 
mder General Burgoyne in the American war, and whose hus- 
band had fought the French in Spain. She indeed inclined to 
the idea that, in some way, the French were connected wiili 
the small thefts, which were ascertained facts, and the burglaries 
and highway robberies, which were rumours. She had been 
deeply impressed v.'ith the idea of French spies at some time in 
her life ; and the notion could never be fairly eradicated, but 
sprang up again from time to time. And now her theory was 
this: — The Cranford people respected themselves too much., 
and were too grateful to the aristocracy who were so kind as to 
live near the town, ever to disgrace their bringing up by being 
dishonest or immoral ; therefore, we m.ust believe that the 
robbers were strangers — if strangers, why not foreigners? — if 
foreigners, who so likely as the French ? Signor Brunoni spoke 
broken English like a Frenchman ; and, though he wore a 
turban like a Turk, Mrs. Forrester had seen a print of 
Madame de Stael with a turban on, and another of Mr. Denon 
in just such a dress as that in which the conjuror had made his 
appearance, showing clearly that the French, as well as the 
Turks, wore turbans. There could be no doubt Signor Brunoni 



lOO CRANFORD. 

was a Frenchman — a French spy come to discover the weak and 
undefended places of England, and doubtless he had his accom- 
plices. For her part, she, Mrs. Forrester, had always had her 
own opinion of Miss Pole's adventure at the "George Inn" — 
seeing two men where only one was believed to be. French 
people had ways and means which, she was thankful to say, 
the English knew nothing about ; and she had never felt quite 
easy in her mind about going to see that conjuror — it was rather 
too much like a forbidden thing, though the rector was there. 
In short, Mrs. Forrester grew more excited than we had ever 
known her before, and, being an officer's daughter and widow, 
we looked up to her opinion, of course. 

Really I do not know how much was true or false in the re- 
ports which flew about like wildfire just at this time ; but it 
seemed to me then that there was every reason to believe that 
at Mardon (a small town about eight miles from Cranford) 
houses and shops were entered by holes made in the walls, the 
bricks being silently carried away in the dead of the night, and 
all done so quietly that no sound was heard either in or out of 
the house. Miss Matty gave it up in despair when she heard 
of this. " What was the use," said she, "of locks and bolts, 
and bells to the windows, and going round the house every 
night? That last trick was fit for a conjuror. Now she did 
believe that Signor Brunoni was at the bottom of it." 

One afternoon, about five o'clock, we were startled by a hasty 
knock at the door. Miss Matty bade me run and tell Martha 
on no account to open the door till she (Miss Matty) had re- 
connoitred through the window ; and she armed herself with a 
footstool to drop down on the head of the visitor, in case he 
should show a face covered with black crape, as he looked up 
in answer to her inquiry of who was there. But it was nobody 
but Miss Pole and Betty. The former came upstairs, carrying 
a little hand-basket, and she was evidently in a state of great 
agitation. 

" Take care of that ! " said she to me, as I offered to relieve 
her of her basket. " It's my plate. I am sure there is a plan 
to rob my house to-night. I am come to throw myself on your 
hospitality, Miss Matty. Betty is going to sleep with her cousin 
at the ' George.' I can sit up here all night if you will allow 
me ; but my house is so far from any neighbours, and I don't 
beheve we could be heard if we screamed ever so ! " 



THE PANIC. lOI 

"But," said Miss Matty, "what has alarmed you so much? 
. Have you seen any men lurking about the house?" 

"Oh, yes!" answered Miss Pole. "Two very bad-looking 
men have gone three times past the house, very slowly ; and an 
Irish beggar-woman came not half-an-hour ago, and all but 
forced herself in past Betty, saying her children were starving, 
and she must speak to the mistress. You see, she said ' mis- 
tress,' though there was a hat hanging up in the hall, and it 
would have been more natural to have said 'master.' But 
Betty shut the door in her face, and came up to me, and we 
got the spoons together, and sat in the parlour-window watch- 
ing till we saw Thomas Jones going from his work, when we 
called to him and asked him to take care of us into the town." 

We might have triumphed over Miss Pole, who had professed 
such bravery until she was frightened ; but we were too glad to 
perceive that she shared in the weaknesses of humanity to exult 
over her ; and I gave up my room to her very willingly, and 
shared Miss Matty's bed for the night. But before we retired, 
the two ladies rummaged up, out of the recesses of their memory, 
such horrid stories of robbery and murder that I quite quaked 
in my shoes. Miss Pole was evidently anxious to prove that 
such terrible events had occurred within her experience that 
she was justified in her sudden panic ; and Miss Matty did not 
like to be outdone, and capped every story with one yet more 
horrible, till it reminded me, oddly enough, of an old story I 
had read somewhere, of a nightingale and a musician, who 
strove one against the other which could produce the most 
admirable music, till poor Philomel dropped down dead. 

One of the stories that haunted me for a long time afterwards 
was of a girl who was left in charge of a great house in Cumber- 
land on some particular fair-day, when the other servants all 
went off to the gaieties. The family were away in London, 
and a pedlar came by, and asked to leave his large and heavy 
pack in the kitchen, saying he would call for it again at night ; 
and the girl (a gamekeeper's daughter), roaming about in search 
of amusement, chanced to hit upon a gun hanging up in the 
hall, and took it down to look at the chasing ; and it went off 
through the open kitchen door, hit the pack, and a slow dark 
thread of blood came oozing out. (How Miss Pole enjoyed 
this part of the story, dw^elling on each word as if she loved 
it !) She rather hurried over the further account of the girl's 



I02 CRANFORD. 

bravery, and I have but a confused idea that, somehow, she 
baffled the robbers with Itahan irons, heated red-hot, and then 
restored to blackness by being dipped in grease. 

We parted for the night with an awe-stricken wonder as to 
wliat we sliould hear of in the morning — and, on my part, v/ith 
a vehement desire for the night to be over and gone : I was so 
afraid lest the robbers should have seen, from some dark lurk- 
ing-place, that Miss Pole had carried off her plate, aiW thus 
have a double motive for attacking our house. 

But until Lady Glenmire came to call next day we heard of 
nothing unusual. The kitchen fire-irons were in exactly the 
same position against the back door as when Martha and I had 
skilfully piled them up, like spillikins, ready to fall with an 
awful clatter if only a cat had touched the outside panels. I 
had wondered what we should all do if thus awakened and 
alarmed, and had proposed to Miss Matty that we should cover 
up our faces under the bed-clothes, so that there should be no 
danger of the robbers thinking that we could identify them ; 
but Miss Matty, who was trembling very much, scouted this 
idea, and said we owed it to society to apprehend them, and 
that she should certainly do her best to lay hold of them and 
lock them up in the garret till morning. 

When Lady Glenmire came, we almost felt jealous of her. 
Mrs. Jamieson's house had really been attacked ; at least there 
were men's footsteps to be seen on the flower borders, under- 
neath the kitchen windows, "where nae men should be ; " and 
Carlo had barked all through the night as if strangers were 
abroad. Mrs. Jamieson had been awakened by Lady Glen- 
mire, and they had rung the bell which communicated with 
Mr. Mulliner's room in the third storey, and when his night- 
capped head had appeared over the bannisters, in answer to 
the summons, they had told him of their alarm, and the reasons 
for it ; whereupon he retreated into his bedroom, and locked 
the door (for fear of draughts, as he informed them in the 
morning), and opened the window, and called out valiantly to 
say, if the supposed robbers would come to him he would fight 
them ; but, as Lady Glenmire observed, that was but poor 
comfort, since they would have to pass by Mrs. Jamieson's 
room and her own before they could reach him, and must be 
of a very pugnacious disposition indeed if they neglected the 
opportunities of robbery presented by the unguarded lower 



THE PANIC. 103 

Storeys, to go up to a garret, and there force a door in order 
■ to get at the champion of the house. Lady Glenmire, after 
waiting and listening for some time in the drawing-room, had 
proposed to Mrs. Jamieson that they should go to bed ; but 
that lady said she should not feel comfortable unless she sat 
up and watched ; and, accordingly, she packed herself warmly 
up on the sofa, where she was found by the housemaid, when 
she came into the room at six o'clock, fast asleep ; but Lady 
Glenmire went to bed, and kept awake all night. 

When Miss Pole heard of this, she nodded her head in 
great satisfaction. She had been sure we should hear of some- 
thing happening in Cranford that night ; and we had heard. 
It was clear enough they had first proposed to attack her 
house ; but when they saw that she and Betty were on their 
guard, and had carried off the plate, they had changed their 
tactics and gone to Mrs. Jamieson's, and no one knew what 
might have happened if Carlo had not barked, like a good 
dog as he was ! 

Poor Carlo ! his barking days were nearly over. Whether 
the gang who infested the neighbourhood were afraid of him^ 
or whether they were revengeful enough, for the way in which 
he had baffled them on the night in question, to poison him ; 
or whether, as some among the more uneducated people 
thought, he died of apoplexy, brought on by too much feeding 
and too httle exercise ; at any rate, it is certain that, two days 
after this eventful night, Carlo was found dead, with his poor 
little legs stretched out stiff in the attitude of running, as if by 
such unusual exertion he could escape the sure pursuer, Death. 

We were all sorry for Carlo, the old familiar friend who had 
snapped at us for so many years ; and the mysterious mode of 
his death made us very uncomfortable. Could Signor Brunoni 
be at the bottom of this ? He had apparently killed a canary 
with only a word of command ; his will seemed of deadly 
force ; who knew but what he might yet be lingering in the 
neighbourhood willing all sorts of awful things ! 

W^e whispered these fancies among ourselves in the evenings ; 
but in the mornings our courage came back with the daylight, 
and in a week's time we had got over the shock of Carlo's 
death ; all but Mrs. Jamieson. She, poor thing, felt it as she 
had felt no event since her husband's death ; indeed Miss Pole 
said, that as the Honourable Mr. Jamieson drank a good deal, 



104 CRANFORD. 

and occasioned her much uneasrness, it was possible that Carlo's 
death might be the greater affliction. But there was always 
a tinge of cynicism in Miss Pole's remarks. However, one 
thing was clear and certain — it was necessary for Mrs. Jamie- 
son to have some change of scene ; and Mr. Mulliner was very 
■ impressive on this point, shaking his head whenever we inquired 
after his mistress, and speaking of her loss of appetite and bad 
nights very ominously ; and with justice too, for if she had two 
characteristics in her natural state of health they were a facility 
of eating and sleeping. If she could neither eat nor sleep, she 
must be indeed out of spirits and out of health. 

Lady Glenmire (who had evidently taken very kindly to Cran- 
ford) did not like the idea of Mrs. Jamieson's going to Chelten- 
ham, and more than once insinuated pretty plainly that it was 
Mr. MuUiner's doing, who had been much alarmed on the 
occasion of the house being attacked, and since had said, more 
than once, that he felt it a very responsible charge to have to 
defend so many women. Be that as it might, Mrs. Jamieson 
went to Cheltenham, escorted by Mr. Mulliner ; and Lady 
Glenmire remained in possession of the house, her ostensible 
office being to take care that the maid-servants did not pick up 
followers. She made a very pleasant-looking dragon ; and, as 
soon as it was arranged for her stay in Cranford, she found out 
that Mrs. Jamieson's visit to Cheltenham was just the best thing 
in the world. She had let her house in Edinburgh, and was for 
the time houseless, so the charge of her sister-in-law's comfort- 
able abode was very convenient and acceptable. 

Miss Pole was very much inclined to instal herself as a heroine, 
because of the decided steps she had taken in flying from the 
two men and one woman, whom she entitled " that murderous 
gang." She described their appearance in glowing colours, and 
I noticed that every time she went over the story some fresh 
trait of villainy was added to their appearance. One was tall — 
he grew to be gigantic in height before we had done with him ; 
j;e of course had black hair — and by-and-by it hung in elf-locks 
over his forehead and down his back. The other was short 
and broad — and a hump sprouted out on his shoulder before we 
heard the last of him ; he had red hair — which deepened into 
carroty ; and she was almost sure he had a cast in the eye — a 
decided squint. As for the woman, her eyes glared, and she 
was mascuUne-looking — a perfect virago ; most probably a man 



THE PANIC. 105 

dressed in woman's clothes : afterwards, we heard of a beard 
on her chin, and a manly voice and a stride. 

If Miss Pole was delighted to recount the events of that afrer- 
noon to all inquirers, others were not so proud of their adventures 
in the robbery line. Mr. Hoggins, the surgeon, had been 
attacked at his own door by two ruffians, who were concealed 
in the shadow of the porch, and so effectually silenced him that 
he was robbed in the interval between ringing his bell and the 
servant's answering it. Miss Pole was sure it would turn out 
that this robbery had been committed by " her men," and went 
the very day she heard the report to have her teeth examined, 
and to question Mr. Hoggins. She came to us afterwards ; 
so we heard what she had heard, straight and direct from the 
source, while we were yet in the excitement and flutter of the 
agitation caused by the first intelligence ; for the event had only 
occurred the night before. 

" Well ! " said Miss Pole, sitting down with the decision of a 
person who has made up her mind as to the nature of life and 
the world (and such people never tread lightly, or seat them- 
selves without a bump), " well, Miss Matty ! men will be men. 
Every mother's son of them wishes to be considered Samson 
and Solomon rolled into one — too strong ever to be beaten or 
discomfited— too wise ever to be outwitted. If you will notice, 
they have always foreseen events, though they never tell one 
for one's warning before the events happen. My father was a 
man, and I know the sex pretty well." 

She had talked herself out of breath, and we should have 
been very glad to fill up the necessary pause as chorus, but we 
did not exactly know what to say, or which man had suggested 
this diatribe against the sex ; so we only joined in generally, 
with a grave shake of the head, and a soft murmur of "They 
are very incomprehensible, certainly ! " 

"Now, only think," said she. "There, I have undergone 
the risk of having one of my remaining teeth drawn (for one is 
terribly at the mercy of any surgeon-dentist ; and I, for one, 
always speak them fair till I have got my mouth out of their 
clutches), and, after all, Mr. Hoggins is too much of a man to 
own that he was robbed last night." 

" Not robbed ! " exclaimed the chorus. 

" Don't tell me ! " Miss Pole exclaimed, angry that we could 
be for a moment imposed upon. "I believe he was robbed. 



Io5 CRANFORD. 

just as Betty told me, and he is ashamed to own it ; and, to be 
sure, it was very silly of him to be robbed just at his own door ; 
I dare say he feels that such a tiling won't raise him in the eyes 
of Cranford society, and is anxious to conceal it — but he need 
not have tried to impose upon me, by saying I must have heard 
ap exaggerated account of some petty theft of a neck of mutton, 
which, it seems, was stolen out of the safe in his yard last weelv ; 
he had the impertinence to add, he believed that that was taken 
by the cat. I have no doubt, if I could get at the bottom of it, 
it was that Irishman dressed up in woman's clothes, who came 
spying about my house, with the story about the starving 
•children." 

After we had duly condemned the want of candour which Mr. 
Hoggins had evinced, and abused men in general, taking him 
for the representative and type, we got round to the subject 
about which we had been talking when Miss Pole came in ; 
namely, how far, in the present disturbed state of the country, 
we could venture to accept an invitation which Miss Matty had 
just received from Mrs. Forrester, to come as usual and keep 
the anniversary of her wedding-day by drinking tea with her at 
five o'clock, and playing a quiet pool afterwards. Mrs. Forrester 
had said that she asked us with some diffidence, because the 
roads were, she feared, very unsafe. But she suggested that 
perhaps one of us would not object to take the sedan, and that 
tlie others, by walking briskly, might keep up with the long trot 
of the chairmen, and so we might all arrive safely at Over Place, 
a suburb of the town. (No ; that is too large an expression : a. 
small cluster of houses separated from Cranford by about two 
hundred yards of a dark and lonely lane.) There was no doubt 
but that a similar note was awaiting Miss Pole at home ; so her 
call was a very fortunate affair, as it enabled us to consult together. 
. . . We would all much rather have declined this invitation ; 
but we felt that it would not be quite kind to Mrs. Forrester, 
who vv'ould otherwise be left to a solitary retrospect of her not 
very happy or fortunate life. Miss Matty and Miss Pole had 
been visitors on this occasion for many years, and now they 
gallantly determined to nail their colours to the mast, and to 
go through Darkness Lane rather than fail in loyalty to their 
friend. 

But when the evening came, jSIiss l^.latty (for it was she who 
was voted into the cb.air, as she had a cold), before being shut 



THE PANIC 107 

down in the sedan, like jack-in-a-box, implored the chairmen, 
whatever might befall, not to run away and leave her fastened 
up there, to be murdered ; and even after they had promised, I 
saw her tighten her features into tlie stern determination of a 
martyr, and she gave me a melancholy and ominous shake of 
the head through the glass. However, we got there safely, only 
rather out of breath, for it was who could trot hardest through 
Darkness Lane, and I am afraid poor Miss Matty was sadly 
jolted. 

Mrs. Forrester had made extra preparations, in acknowledg- 
ment of our exertion in coming to see her through such dangers. 
The usual forms of genteel ignorance as to what her servants 
might send up were all gone through ; and harmony and 
Preference seemed likely to be tlie order of the evening, but for 
an interesting conversation that began I don't know how, but 
which had relation, of course, to the robbers who infested the 
neighbourhood of Cranford. 

Having braved the dangers of Darkness Lane, and thus having 
a little stock of reputation for courage to fall back upon ; and 
also, I dare say, desirous of proving ourselves superior to men 
{videlicet Mr. Hoggins) in the article of candour, we began to 
relate our individual fears, and the private precautions we each 
of us took. I owned that my pet apprehension was eyes — eyes 
looking at me, and watching me, glittering out from some dull, 
fiat, wooden surface ; and that if I dared to go up to my 
looking-glass when I was panic-stricken, I should certainly turn 
it round, with its back towards me, for fear of seeing eyes 
behind me looking out of the darkness. I saw Miss Malty 
nerving herself up for a confession ; and at last out it came. 
She owned that, ever since she had been a girl, she had dreaded 
being caught by her last leg, just as she was getting into bed, by 
some one concealed under it. She said, when she was younger 
and more active, she used to take a flying leap from a distance, 
and so bring both her legs up safely into bed at once ; but that 
this had always annoyed Deborah, who piqued herself upon 
getting into bed gracefully, and she had given it up in con- 
sequence. But now the old terror would often come over her, 
especially since Miss Pole's house had been attacked (we had 
got quite to believe in the fact of the attack having taken place), 
and yet it was very unpleasant to think of looking under a bed, 
and seeing a man concealed, with a great, fierce face staring 



Io8 CRANFORD. 

out at you ; so she had bethougin herself of something — perhaps 
I had noticed that she had told Martha to buy her a penny ball, 
such as children play with — and now she rolled this ball under 
the bed every night : if it came out on the other side, well and 
good ; if not she always took care to have her hand on the 
bell-rope, and meant to call out John and Harry, just as if she 
expected men-servants to answer her ring. 

We all applauded this ingenious contrivance, and Miss 
Matty sank back into satisfied silence, with a look at Mrs. 
Forrester as if to ask for her private weakness. 

Mrs. Forrester looked askance at Miss Pole, and tried to 
change the subject a little by telling us that she had borrowed 
a boy from one of the neighbouring cottages and promised his 
parents a hundredweight of coals at Christmas, and his supper 
every evening, for the loan of him at nights. She had in- 
structed him in his possible duties when he first came ; and, 
finding him sensible, she had given him the Major's sword (the 
Major was her late husband), and desired him to put it very 
■carefully behind his pillow at night, turning the edge towards 
the head of the pillow. Fie was a sharp lad, she was sure ; for, 
spying out the Major's cocked hat, he had said, if he might 
have that to wear, he was sure he could frighten two English- 
men, or four Frenchmen, any day. But she had impressed 
upon him anew that he was to lose no time in putting on hats 
or anything else ; but, if he heard any noise, he was to run at it 
with his drawn sword. On my suggesting that some accident 
might occur from such slaughterous and indiscriminate direc- 
tions, and that he might rush on Jenny getting up to wash, and 
have spitted her before he had discovered that she was not a 
Frenchman, Mrs. Forrester said she did not think that that was 
likely, for he was a very sound sleeper, and generally had to be 
well shaken or cold-pigged in a morning before they could 
rouse him. She sometimes thought such dead sleep must be 
owing to the hearty suppers the poor lad ate, for he was half- 
starved at home, and she told Jenny to see that he got a good 
meal at night. 

Still this was no confession of Mrs. Forrester's peculiar 
timidity, and we urged her to tell us what she thought would 
frighten her more than anything. She paused, and stirred the 
fire, and snuffed the candles, and then she said, in a sounding 
whisper — 



THE PANIC. 109 

"Ghosts!" 

She looked at Miss Pole, as much as to say, she had declared 
• it, and would stand by it. Such a look was a challenge in 
itself. Miss Pole came down upon her with indigestion, spec- 
tral illusions, optical delusions, and a great deal out of Dr. 
Ferrier and Dr. Hibbert besides. Miss Matty had rather a 
leaning to ghosts, as I have mentioned before, and what little 
she did say was all on Mrs. Forrester's side, who, emboldened 
by sympathy, protested that ghosts were a part of her religion ; 
that surely she, the widow of a major in the army, knew what 
to be frightened at, and what not ; in short, I never saw Mrs. 
Forrester so warm either before or since, for she was a gentle, 
meek, enduring old lady in most things. Not all the elder- 
wine that ever was mulled could this night wash out the remem- 
brance of this difference between Miss Pole and her hostess. 
Indeed, when the elder-wine was brought in, it gave rise to a 
new burst of discussion ; for Jenny, the little maiden who 
staggered under the tray, had to give evidence of having seen a 
ghost with her own eyes, not so many nights ago, in Darkness 
Lane, the very lane we were to go through on our way home. 

In spite of the uncomfortable feeling which this last con- 
sideration gave me, I could not help being amused at Jenny's 
position, which was exceedingly like that of a witness being 
examined and cross-examined by two counsel who are not at 
all scrupulous about asking leading questions. The conclusion 
I arrived at was, that Jenny had. certainly seen something 
beyond what a fit of indigestion would have caused. A lady 
all in white, and without her head., was what she deposed and 
adhered to, supported by a consciousness of the secret 
sympathy of her mistress under the withering scorn with which 
Miss Pole regarded her. And not only she, but many others, 
had seen this headless lady, who sat by the roadside wringing 
her hands as in deep grief. Mrs. Forrester looked at us from 
time to time with an air of conscious triumph ; but then she 
had not to pass through Darkness Lane before she could bury 
herself beneath her own familiar bed-clothes. 

We preserved a discreet silence as to the headless lady while 
we were putting on our things to go home, for there was no 
knowing how near the ghostly head and ears might be, or what 
spiritual connection they might be keeping up with the unhappy 
body in Darkness Lane ; and, therefore, even Miss Pole felt that 



lia CRANFORD. 

it was as well not to speak lightly on such subjects, for fear of 
vexing or insulting that woebegone trunk. At least, so I con- 
jecture ; for, instead of the busy clatter usual in the operation,, 
we tied on our cloaks as sadly as mutes at a funeral. Miss 
Matty drew the curtains round the windows of the chair to shut 
out disagreeable sights, and the men (either because they were 
in spirits that their labours were so nearly ended, or because 
they were going down hill) set off at such a round and merry 
pace that it was all Miss Pole and I could do to keep up with 
tliem. She had breath for nothing beyond an imploring 
" Don't leave me ! " uttered as she clutched my arm so tightly 
that I could not have quitted her, ghost or no ghost. What a 
relief it was when the men, weary of their burden and their 
quick trot, stopped just where Headingley Causeway branches 
off from Darkness Lane ! Miss Pole unloosed me and caught at 
one of the men — • 

"Could not you — could not you take Miss Matty round by 
Headingley Causeway? — the pavement in Darkness Lane jolts 
so, and she is not very strong." 

A smothered voice was heard from the inside of the chair — 

"Oh! pray go on! What is the matter? What is the 
matter? I will give you sixpence more to go on very fast ; pray 
don't stop here." 

"And I'll give you a shilling," said Miss Pole, with tremu- 
lous dignity, "if you'll go by Headingley Causeway." 

The two men grunted acquiescence and took up the chair, 
and went along the causeway, which certainly answered Miss 
Pole's kind purpose of saving Miss Matty's bones ; for it was 
covered with soft, thick mud, and even a fall there would have 
been easy till the getting-up came, when there might have been 
some difficulty in extrication. 



SAMUEL BROV/N. III. 



CHAPTER XI. 

SAMUEL BROWN. 



The next morning I met Lady Glenmire and Miss Pole setting" 
out on a long walk to find some old woman who was famous in 
the neighbourhood for her skill in knitting woollen stockings. 
Miss Pole said to me, with a smile half-kindly and half-con- 
tem^ptuous upon her countenance, "I have been just telling 
Lady Glenmire of our poor friend Mrs. Forrester, and her terror 
of ghosts. It comes from living so much alone, and hstening ta 
the bug-a-boo stories of that Jenny of hers." She was so calm 
and so much above superstitious fears herself that I was almost 
ashamed to say how glad I had been of her Headingley Causew^ay 
proposition the night before, and turned off the conversation to 
something else. 

In the afternoon Miss Pole called on Miss Matty to tell her of 
the adventure— the real adventure they had met with on their 
morning's walk. They had been perplexed about the exact 
path which they were to take across the fields in order to find 
the knitting old woman, and had stopped to inquire at a little 
wayside public-house, standing on the high road to London^ 
about three miles from Cranford. The good woman had asked 
them to sit down and rest themselves while she fetched her 
husband, who could direct them better than she could ; and, 
while they were sitting in the sanded parlour, a littte girl came 
in. They thought that she belonged to the landlady, and began 
some trifling conversation with her ; but, on Mrs. Roberts's 
return, she told them that the little thing was the only child 
of a couple who were staying in the house. And then she 
began a long story, out of which Lady Glenmire and Miss Pole 
could only gather one or two decided facts, which were that, 
about six wrecks ago, a light spring-cart had broken down just 
before their door, in which there were two men, one woman, 
and this child. One of the men was seriously hurt — no bones 
broken, only "shaken," the landlady called it; but he had 
probably sustained some severe internal injury, for he had 



112 CRANFORD. 

languished in their house ever since, attended by his wife, 
the mother of this little girl. Miss Pole had asked what he 
was, what he looked like. And Mrs. Roberts had made answer 
that he was not like a gentleman, nor yet like a common 
person ; if it had not beeii that he and his wife were such 
decent, quiet people, she could almost have thought he was a 
mountebank, or something of that kind, for they had a great box 
in the cart, full of she did not know what. She had helped to 
unpack it, and take out their linen and clothes, when the other 
man — his twin-brother, she beheved he was — had gone off with 
the horse and cart. 

Miss Pole had begun to have her suspicions at this point, and 
expressed her idea that it was rather strange that the box and 
cart and horse and all should have disappeared ; but good Mrs. 
Roberts seemed to have become quite indignant at Miss Pole's 
implied suggestion ; in fact, Miss Pole said, she was as angry as 
if Miss Pole had told her that she herself was a swindler. As 
the best way of convincing the ladies, she bethought her of 
begging them to see the wife ; and, as Miss Pole said, there was 
no doubting the honest, worn, bronzed face of the woman, who, 
at the first tender word from Lady Glenmire, burst into tears, 
which she was too weak to check until some word from the land- 
lady made her swallow down her sobs, in order that she might 
testify to the Christian kindness shown by Mr. and Mrs. Roberts. 
Miss Pole came round with a swing to as vehement a behef in 
the sorrowful tale as she had been sceptical before ; and, as a 
proof of this, her energy in the poor sufferer's behalf was nothing 
daunted when she found out that he, and no other, was our 
Signor Brunoni, to whom all Cranford had been attributing all 
manner of evil this six weeks past ! Yes ! his wife said his 
proper name was Samuel Brown — " Sam," she called him — but 
to the last we preferred calling him "the Signor ;" it sounded so 
much better. 

The end of their conversation with the Signora Brunoni was 
that it was agreed that he should be placed under medical 
advice, and for any expense incurred in procuring this Lady 
Glenmire promised to hold herself responsible, and had accord- 
ingly gone to Mr. Hoggins to beg him to ride over to the 
"Rising Sun" that very afternoon, and examine into the signor's 
real state ; and, as Miss Pole said, if it was desirable to remove 
him to Cranford to be more immediately under Mr. Ploggins's 



SAMUEL BROWN. II3 

eye, she would undertake to see for lodgings and arrange about 
the rent. Mrs. Roberts had been as kind as could be all through- 
put, but it was evident that their long residence there had been 
a slight inconvenience. 

Before Miss Pole left us, Miss Matty and I were as full of the 
morning's adventure as she was. We talked about it all the 
evening, turning it in every possible light, and we went to bed 
anxious for the morning, when we should surely hear from some 
one what Mr. Hoggins thought and recommended ; for, as 
Miss Matty observed, though Mr. Hoggins did say "Jack's 
up," "a fig for his heels," and called Preference " Pref," she 
believed he was a very worthy man and a very clever surgeon. 
Indeed, we were rather proud of our doctor at Cranford, as a 
doctor. We often wished, when we heard of Queen Adelaide 
or the Duke of Wellington being ill, that they would send for 
Mr. Hoggins ; but, on consideration, we were rather glad they 
did not, for, if we were ailing, what should we do if Mr. 
Hoggins had been appointed physician-in-ordinary to the Royal 
Family ? As a surgeon we were proud of him ; but as a man 
— or rather, I should say, as a gentleman — we could only 
shake our heads over his name and himself, and wished that 
he had read Lord Chesterfield's Letters in the days when his 
manners were susceptible of improvement. Nevertheless, we 
all regarded his dictum in the signor's case as infallible, and 
when he said that with care and attention he might rally, we 
had no more fear for him. 

But, although we had no more fear, everybody did as much 
as if there was great cause for anxiety — as indeed there was 
until Mr. Hoggins took charge of him. Miss Pole looked out 
clean and comfortable, if homely, lodgings ; Miss Matty sent 
the sedan-chair for him, and Martha and I aired it well before 
it left Cranford by holding a warming-pan full of red-hot coals 
in it, and then shutting it up close, smoke and all, until the 
time when he should get into it at the "Rising Sun." Lady 
Glenmire undertook the medical department under Mr. Hoggins's 
directions, and rummaged up all Mrs. Jamieson's medicine 
glasses, and spoons, and bed-tables, in a free-and-easy way, 
that made Miss Matty feel a little anxious as to what that lady 
and Mr. Mulliner might say, if they knew. Mrs. Forrester 
made some of the bread-jelly, for which she was so famous, 
to have ready as a refreshment in the lodgings when he should 



114 CR AN FORD. 

arrive. A present of this bread-jelly v/as the highest mark of 
favour dear Mrs. Forrester could confer. Miss Pole had once 
asked her for the receipt, but she had met with a very decided 
rebuff; that lady told her that she could not part with it to any 
one during her hfe, and that after her death it was bequeathed, 
as her executors would find, to Miss Matty. What Miss Matty, 
or, as Mrs. Forrester called her (remembering the clause in her 
will and the dignity of the occasion), Miss iMatilda Jenkyns — 
might choose to do with the receipt when it came into her 
possession — whether to make it public, or to hand it down as 
an heirloom — she did not know, nor would she dictate. And 
a mould of this admirable, digestible, unique bread-jelly was 
sent by Mrs. Forrester to our poor sick conjuror. Who says 
that the aristocracy are proud? Here was a lady by birth a 
Tyrrell, and descended from the great Sir Walter that shot 
King Rufus, and in whose veins ran the blood of him who 
murdered the little princes in the Tower, going every day to see 
what dainty dishes she could prepare for Samuel Brown, a 
mountebank ! But, indeed, it was wonderful to see what kind 
feelings were called out by this poor man's coming amongst 
us. And also wonderful to see how the great Cranford panic, 
which had been occasioned by his first coming in his Turkish 
dress, melted away into thin air on his second coming — pale 
and feeble, and vvith his heavy, filmy eyes, that only brightened 
a very little when they fell upon the countenance of his faithful 
wife, or their pale and sorrowful little girk 

Somehow we all forgot to be afraid. I dare say it was that 
finding out that he, who had first excited our love of the mar- 
vellous by his unprecedented arts, had not sufficient every-day 
gifts to manage a shying horse, made us feel as if we were 
ourselves again. Miss Pole came with her little basket at all 
hours of the evening, as if her lonely house and the unfrequented 
road to it had never been infested by that "murderous gang ; " 
Mrs. Forrester said she thought that neither Jenny nor she need 
mind the headless lady who wept and wailed in Darkness Lane, 
for surely the power was never given to such beings tc harm 
those who went about to try to do what httle good was in 
their power, to which Jenny tremblingly assented ; but the 
mistress's theory had little effect on the maid's practice until 
she had sewn two pieces of red flannel in the shape of a cross 
on her inner garment. 



SAMUEL BROWN. I I 5' 

I found Miss Matty covering her penny ball — the ball that 
she used to roll under her bed — with gay-coloured worsted in 
rainbow stripes. 

"My dear," said she, "my heart is sad for that little care- 
worn child. Although her father is a conjuror, she looks as if 
she had never had a good game of play in her life. I used to 
make very pretty balls in this way when I was a girl, and I 
thought I would try if I could not make this one smart and take 
it to Phoebe this afternoon. I think 'the gang' must have left 
the neighbourhood, for one does not hear any more of their 
violence and robbery now." 

We were all of us far too full of the signor's precarious state 
to talk either about robbers or ghosts. Indeed, Lady Glenmire 
said she never had heard of any actual robberies, except that 
two little boys had stolen some apples from Farmer Benson's 
orchard, and that some eggs had been missed on a market-day 
off Widow Hayward's stall. But that was expecting too much 
of us ; we could not acknowledge that we had only had this 
small foundation for all our panic. Miss Pole drew herself up 
at this remark of Lady Glenmire's, and said " that she wished she 
could agree with her as to the very small reason we had had for 
alarm, but with the recollection of a man disguised as a woman 
who had endeavoured to force himself into her house while his 
confederates waited outside ; with the knowledge gained from 
Lady Glenmire herself, of the footprints seen on Mrs. Jamieson's 
flower borders ; with the fact before her of the audacious 

robbery committed on Mr. Hoggins at his own door" But 

here Lady Glenmire broke in with a very strong expression of 
doubt as to whether this last story was not an entire fabrication 
founded upon the theft of a cat ; she grew so red while she was 
saying all this that I was not surprised at Miss Pole's manner 
of bridling up, and I am certain, if Lady Glenmire had not been 
" her ladyship," we should have had a more emphatic contradic- 
tion than the "Well, to be sure! "and similar fragmentary ejacula- 
tions, which were all that she ventured upon in my lady's presence. 
But when she was gone Miss Pole began a long congratulation 
to Miss Matty that so far they had escaped marriage, which 
she noticed always made people credulous to the last degree ; 
indeed, she thought it argued great natural credulity in a 
woman if she could not keep herself from being married ; and 
in what Lady Glenmire had said about Mr. Hoggins's rcbbery 



Il6 CRANFORD. 

we had a specimen of what people came to if they gave way 
to such a weakness ; evidently Lady Glenmire would swallow 
anything if she could believe the poor vamped-up story about a 
neck of mutton and a pussy with which he had tried to impose 
on Miss Pole, only she had always been on her guard against 
believing too much of what men said. 

We were thankful, as Miss Pole desired us to be, that we had 
never been married ; but I think, of the two, we were even 
more thankful that the robbers had left Cranford ; at least I 
judge so from a speech of Miss Matty's that evening, as we sat 
over the fire, in which she evidently looked upon a husband as 
a great protector against thieves, burglars, and ghosts ; and 
said that she did not think that she should dare to be always 
warning young people against matrimony, as Miss Pole did 
continually ; to be sure, marriage was a risk, as she saw, now 
she had had some experience ; but she remembered the time 
when she had looked forward to being married as much as 
any one. 

" Not to any particular person, my dear," said she, hastily 
checking herself up, as if she were afraid of having admitted 
too much; "only the old story, you know, of ladies always 
saying, ' When I marry,' and gentlemen, ' If 1 marry.'" It 
was a joke spoken in rather a sad tone, and I doubt if either 
of us smiled ; but I could not see Miss Matty's face by the 
flickering fire-light. In a little while she continued — 

"But, after all, I have not told you the truth. It is so 
long ago, and no one ever knew how much I thought of it at 
the time, unless, indeed, my dear mother guessed ; but I may 
say that there was a time when I did not think I should have 
been only Miss Matty Jenk3ms all my life ; for even if I did 
meet with any one who wished to marry me now (and, as Miss 
Pole says, one is never too safe), I could not take him — I hope 
he would not take it too much to heart, but I could ?iot take 
him — or any one but the person I once thought I should be 
married to ; and he is dead and gone, and he never knew how 
it all came about that I said ' No,' when I had thought many 
and many a time — Well, it's no matter what I thought. God 
ordains it all, and I am very happy, my dear. No one has 
such kind friends as I," continued she, taking my hand and 
holding it in hers. 

If I had never known of Mr. Holbrook, I could have said 



SAMUEL BROWN. II7 

something in this pause, but as I had, I could not think of 
anything that would come in naturally, and so we both kept 
silence for a little time. 

"My father once made us," she began, "keep a diary, in 
two columns ; on one side we were to put down in the morning 
"what we thought would be the course and events of the coming 
day, and at night we were to put down on the other side what 
really had happened. It would be to some people rather a sad 
way of telling their lives " (a tear dropped upon my hand at 
these words) — " I don't mean that mine has been sad, only so 
very different to what I expected. I remember, one winter's 
evening, sitting over our bedroom fire with Deborah — I re- 
member it as if it were yesterday — and we were planning our 
future lives, both of us were planning, though only she talked 
about it. She said she should Hke to marry an archdeacon,, 
and write his charges ; and you know, my dear, she never was 
married, and, for aught I know, she never spoke to an un- 
married archdeacon in her life. I never was ambitious, nor 
could I have written charges, but I thought I could manage 
a house (my mother used to call me her right hand), and I 
was always so fond of little children — the shyest babies would 
stretch out their little arms to come to me ; when I was a 
girl, I was half my leisure time mirsing in the neighbouring: 
cottages ; but I don't know how it was, when I grew sad and 
grave — which I did a year or two after this time- — the little 
things drew back from me, and I am afraid I lost the knack, 
though I am just as fond of children as ever, and have a 
strange yearning at my heart whenever I see a motlier with 
her baby in her arms. Nay, my dear " (and by a sudden blaze 
which sprang up from a fall of the unstirred coals, I saw that 
her eyes were full of tears — gazing intently on some vision of 
what might have been), " do you know I dream sometimes 
that I have a little child — always the same — a little girl of 
about two years old ; she never grows older, though I have 
dreamt about her for many years. I don't think I ever dream 
of any words or sound she makes ; she is very noiseless and 
still, but she comes to me when she is very sorry or very glad, 
and I have wakened with the clasp of her dear little arms 
round my neck. Only last night— perhaps because I had gone 
to sleep thinking of this ball for Phoebe — my little darling came 
in my dream, and put up her mouth to be kissed, just as I 



Il8 CRANFORD. 

have seen real babies do to real mothers before going to bed. 
But all this is nonsense, dear ! only don't be frightened by 
IVIiss Pole from being married. I can fancy it may be a very 
happy state, and a little credulity helps one on through life 
very smoothly— better than always doubting and doubting and 
seeing difficulties and disagreeables in everything." 

If I had been inclined to be daunted from matrimony, it 
would not have been Miss Pole to do it ; it would have been 
the lot of poor Signor Brunoni and his wife. And yet again, 
it was an encouragement to see how, through all their cares ■ 
and sorrows, they thought of each other and not of themselves ; 
and how keen were their joys, if they only passed through each 
other, or through the little Phoebe. 

The signora told me, one day, a good deal about their lives 
up to this period. It began by my asking her whether Miss 
Pole's story of the twin-brothers was true ; it sounded so 
wonderful a likeness, that I should have had my doubts, if 
Miss Pole had not been unmarried. But the signora, or (as 
we found out she preferred to be called) Mrs, Brown, said it 
was quite true ; that her brother-in-law was by many taken for 
her husband, which was of great assistance to them in their 
profession ; " though," she continued, " how people can mistake 
Thomas for the real Signor Brunoni, I can't conceive ; but he 
says they do ; so I suppose I must believe him. Not but 
what he is a very good man ; I am sure I don't know how 
we should have paid our bill at the ' Rising Sun ' but for the 
money he sends ; but people must know very little about ort 
if they can take him for my husband. Why, miss, in the ball 
trick, where my husband spreads his fingers wide, and throws 
out his little finger with quite an air and a grace, Thomas just 
clumps up his hand like a fist, and might have ever so many 
balls hidden in it. Besides, he has never been in India, and 
knows nothing of the proper sit of a turban." 

" Have you been in India?" said I, rather astonished. 

" Oh, yes ! many a year, ma'am. Sam was a sergeant in the 
31st ; and when the regiment was ordered to India, I drew a Jot 
to go, and I was more thankful than I can tell ; for it seemed 
as if it would only be a slow death to me to part from my 
husband. But, indeed, ma'am, if I had known all, I don't 
know whether I would not rather have died there and then 
than gone through what I have done since. To be sure, I've 



SAMUEL BROWN. II9 

been able to comfort Sam, and to be with him ; but, ma'am, 
I've lost six children," said she, looking up at me with those 
strange eyes that I've never noticed but in mothers of dead 
children — with a kind of wild look in them, as if seeking for 
what they never more might find. "Yes! Six children died 
off, like httle buds nipped untimely, in that cruel India. I 
thought, as each died, I never could — I never would — love a 
child again ; and when the next came, it had not only its o\\ 11 
love, but the deeper love that came from tiie thoughts of its 
little dead brothers and sisters. And when Phoebe was coming, 
I said to my husband, ' Sara, when the child is born, and I am 
strong, I shall leave you ; it will cut my heart cruel ; but if this 
baby dies too, I shall go mad ; the madness is in me now ; but 
if you let me go down to Calcutta, carrying my baby step by 
step, it will, maybe, work itself off; and I will save, and I will 
hoard, and I will beg — and I wdll die, to get a passage home to 
England, where our baby may live?' God bless him ! he said 
I might go ; and he saved up his pay, and I saved every pice I 
could get for washing or any way ; and when Phoebe came, and 
I grew strong again, I set off. It was very lonely ; through the 
thick forests, dark again with their heavy trees — along by the 
river's side (but I had been brought up near the Avon in War- 
wickshire, so that flowing noise sounded like home) — from 
station to station, from Indian village to village, I went along, 
carrying my child. I had seen one of the officers' ladies with a 
little picture, ma am — done by a Catholic foreigner, ma'am — of 
the Virgin and the httle Saviour, ma'am. She had him on her 
arm, and her form was softly curled round him, and their cheeks 
touched. Well, v/hen I went to bid good-bye to this lady, for 
whom I had washed, she cried sadly ; for she, too, had lost her 
children, but she had not another to save, like me; and I was 
bold enough to ask her would she give me that print. And 
she cried the more, and said her children were with that little 
blessed Jesus ; and gave it me, and told me she had heard it 
had been painted on the bottom of a cask, which made it have 
that round shape. And when my body was very weary, and 
my heart was sick (for there were times when I misdoubted if I 
could ever reach my home, and there were times when I thought 
of my husband, and one time when I thought my baby was 
dying), I took out that picture and looked at it, till I could have 
thought the mother spoke to me, and comforted me. And the 



I20 CRANFORD. 

natives were very kind. We could not understand one another; 
but they saw my baby on my breast, and they came out to me, 
and brought me rice and milk, and sometimes flowers — I have 
got some of the flowers dried. Then, the next morning, I was 
so tired ; and they wanted me to stay with them — I could tell 
that — and tried to frighten me from going into the deep woods, 
which, indeed, looked very strange and dark ; but it seemed to 
me as if Death was following me to take my baby away from 
me ; and as if I must go on, and on — and I thought how God 
had cared for mothers ever since the world was made, and 
would care for me ; so I bade them good-bye, and set off afresh. 
And once when my baby was ill, and both she and I needed 
rest, He led me to a place where I found a kind Englishman 
lived, right in the midst of the natives." 

" And you reached Calcutta safely at last?" 

" Yes, safely ! Oh ! when I knew I had only two days' journey 
more before me, I could not help it, ma'am — it might be idolatry, 
I cannot tell — but I was near one of the native temples, and I 
went in it with my baby to thank God for His great mercy ; for it 
seemed to me that where others had prayed before to their God, 
in their joy or in their agony, was of itself a sacred place. And 
I got as servant to an invalid lady, who grew quite fond of my 
baby aboard-ship ; and, in two years' time, Sam earned his 
discharge, and came home to me, and to our child. Then he 
had to fix on a trade ; but he knew of none ; and once, once 
upon a time, he had learnt some tricks from an Indian juggler ; 
£0 he set up conjuring, and it answered so well that he took 
Thomas to help him — as his man, you know, not as another 
conjuror, though Thomas has set it up now on his own hook. 
But it has been a great help to us that likeness between the 
twins, and made a good many tricks go off well that they made 
up together. And Thomas is a good brother, only he has not 
the fine carriage of my husband, so that I can't think how he 
can be taken for Signor Brunoni himself, as he says he is." 

" Poor little Phoebe ! " said I, my thoughts going back to the 
baby she carried all those hundred miles. 

" Ah ! you may say so ! I never thought I should have reared 
her, though, when she fell ill at Chunderabaddad ; but that 
good, kind Aga Jenkyns took us in, which I believe was the 
very saving of her." 

" Jenkyns ! " said I. 



ENGAGED TO BE MARRIED. 121 

"Yes, Jenkyns. I shall think all people of that name are 
kind ; for here is that nice old lady who comes every day to 
take Phoebe a walk ! " 

But an idea had flashed through my head : could the Aga 
Jenkyns be the lost Peter ? True, he was reported by many to 
be dead. But, equally true, some had said that he had arrived 
at the dignity of Great Lama of Thibet. Miss Matty thought 
he was alive. I would make further inquiry. 



CHAPTER XII. 

ENGAGED TO BE MARRIED. 

Was the "poor Peter" of Cranford the Aga Jenkyns of 
Chunderabaddad, or was he not ? As somebody says, that was 
the question. 

In my own home, whenever people had nothing else to do, they 
blamed me for want of discretion. Indiscretion was my bug- 
bear fault. Everybody has a bugbear fault ; a sort of standing 
characteristic — a pitce de risisiance for their friends to cut at ; 
and in general they cut and come again. I was tired of being 
called indiscreet and incautious ; and I determined for once to 
prove myself a model of prudence and wisdom. I would not 
even hint my suspicions respecting the Aga. I would collect 
evidence and carry it home to lay before my father, as the 
family friend of the two Miss Jenkynses. 

In my search after facts, I was often reminded of a descrip- 
tion my father had once given of a ladies' committee that he 
had had to preside over. He said he could not help thinking 
of a passage in Dickens, which spoke of a chorus in which 
every man took the tune he knew best, and sang it to his own 
satisfaction. So, at this charitable committee, every lady took 
the subject uppermost in her mind, and talked about it to her 
own great contentment, but not much to the advancement of 
the subject they had met to discuss. But even that com- 
mittee could have been nothing to the Cranford ladies when I 
attempted to gain some clear and definite information as to 
poor Peter's height, appearance, and when and where he was 
seen and heard of last. For instance, I remember asking Miss 
Pole (and I thought the question was very opportune, for I 



122 CR AN FORD. 

put it when I met her at a call at Mrs. Forrester's, and both 
the ladies had known Peter, and I imagined that they might 
refresh each other's memories) — 1 asked Miss Pole what was 
the very last thing they had ever heard about him ; and then 
she named the absurd report to which I have alluded, about 
his having been elected Great Lama of Thibet ; and this was 
a signal for each lady to go off on her separate idea. Mrs. 
Forrester's start was made on the veiled prophet in Lalla 
Rookh — whether I thought he was meant for the Great Lama, 
though Peter was not so ugly, indeed rather handsome, if he 
had not been freckled. I was thankful to see her double upon 
Peter ; but, in a moment, the delusive lady was off upon Row- 
land's Kalydor, and the merits of cosmetics and hair oils in 
general, and holding forth so fluently that I turned to listen to 
Miss Pole, who (through the llamas, the beasts of burden) had 
got to Peruvian bonds, and the share market, and her poor 
opinion of joint-stock banks in general, and of that one in 
particular in which Miss Matty's money was invested. In vain 
I put in "When was it — in what year was it that you heard 
that Mr. Peter was the Great Lama?" They only joined issue 
to dispute whether llamas were carnivorous animals or not ; in 
which dispute they were not quite on fair grounds, as Mrs. 
Forrester (after tliey had grown warm and cool again) acknow- 
ledged that she always confused carnivorous and graminivorous 
together, just as she did horizontal and perpendicular ; but 
then she apologised for it very prettily, by saying that in her 
day the only use people made of four-syllabled words was to 
teach how they should be spelt. 

: The only fact I gained from this conversation was that cer-- 
tainly Peter had last been heard of in India, "or that neigh- 
bourhood ; " and that this scanty intelligence of his whereabouts 
had reached Cranford in the year when Miss Pole had bought 
her Indian muslin gown, long since worn out (we washed it 
and mended it, and traced its decline and fall into a window- 
biind before we could go on) ; and in a year when Wombwell 
came to Cranford, because Miss Matty had wanted to see an 
elephant in order that she might the better imagine Peter 
riding on one ; and had seen a boa-constrictor too, which was 
more than she wished to imagine in her fancy-pictures of Peter's 
lo:^ality ; and in a year when Miss Jenkyns had learnt some 
piece of poetry off by heart, and used to say, at all the Cranford 



ENGAGED TO BE MARRIED. 1 23 

parties, how Peter was "surveying mankind from China to 
Peru," which everybody had thought very grand, and rather 
appropriate, because India was between China and Peru, if 
you toolc care to turn the globe to the left instead of the right. 

i suppose all these inquiries of mine, and the consequent 
curiosity excited in the minds of my friends, made us bhnd and 
deaf to what was going on around us. It seemed to me as 
if the sun rose and shone, and as if the rain rained on Cranford, 
just as usual, and I did not notice any sign of the times that 
could be considered as a prognostic of any uncommon event ; 
and, to the best of my belief, not only Miss Matty and Mrs. 
Forrester, but even Miss Pole herself, whom we looked upon 
as a kind of prophetess, from the knack she had of foreseeing 
things before they came to pass — although she did not like 
to disturb her friends by telling them her foreknowledge — even 
Miss Pole herself was breathless with astonishment when she 
came to tell us of the astounding piece of news. But I must 
recover myself ; the contemplation of it, even at this distance of 
time, has taken away my breath and my grammar, and unless 
I subdue my emotion, my spelling will go too. 

We were sitting — Miss Matty and I — much as usual, she in 
the blue chintz easy-chair, with her back to the light, and her 
knitting in her hand, I reading aloud the SL Ja7ness Chronicle. 
A few minutes more, and we should have gone to make the 
little alterations in dress usual before calling-time (twelve 
o'clock) in Cranford. I remember the scene and the date well. 
We had been talking of the signor's rapid recovery since the 
warmer weather had set in, and praising Mr. Ploggins's skill, 
and lamenting his want of refinement and manner (it seems 
a curious coincidence that this should have been our subject, 
but so it was), when a knock was heard — a caller's knock — 
three distinct taps— and we were flying (that is to say. Miss 
Matty could not walk very fast, having had a touch of rheu- 
matism) to our rooms, to change cap and collars, when Miss 
Pole arrested us by calhng out, as she came up the stairs, 
"Don't go — I can't wait— it is not twelve, I know — but never 
mind your dress — I must speak to you." We did our best 
to look as if it was not we who had made the hurried move- 
ment, the sound of which she had heard ; for, of course, we 
did not like to have it supposed that we had any old clothes 
that it was convenient to wear out in the " sanctuary of home," 



124 CRANFORD. 

as Miss Jenkyns once prettily called the back parlour, where 
she was tying up preserves. So we threw our gentility with 
■double force into our manners, and very genteel we were for 
two minutes while Miss Pole recovered breath, and excited 
our curiosity strongly by lifting up her hands in amazement, 
and bringing them down in silence, as if what she had to say 
was too big for words, and could only be expressed by panto- 
mime, 

"What do you think. Miss Matty? What do you think? 
Lady Glenmire is to marry — is to be married, I mean — Lady 
Glenmire — Mr. Hoggins — Mr. Hoggins is going to marry Lady 
Glenmire ! " 

" Marry ! " said we. " Marry ! Madness 1 " 

" Marry ! " said Miss Pole, with the decision that belonged to 
her character. "/ said marry! as you do; and I also said, 
' What a fool my lady is going to make of herself ! ' I could 
have said ' Madness ! ' but I controlled myself, for it was in a 
public shop that I heard of it. Where feminine delicacy is gone 
to, I don't know ! You and I, Miss Matty, would have been 
ashamed to have known that our marriage was spoken of in a 
grocer's shop, in the hearing of shopmen ! " 

" But," said Miss Matty, sighing as one recovering from a 
blow, "perhaps it is not true. Perhaps we are doing her 
injustice." 

" No," said Miss Pole. " I have taken care to ascertain that. 
I went straight to Mrs. Fitz-Adam, to borrow a cookery-book 
which I knew she had ; and I introduced my congratulations 
a propos of the difficulty gentlemen must have in housekeeping ; 
and Mrs. Fitz-Adam bridled up, and said that she believed it 
was true, though how and where I could have heard it she did 
not know. She said her brother and Lady Glenmire had come 
to an understanding at last. ' Understanding ! ' such a coarse 
word 1 But my lady will have to come down to many a want 
of refinement. I have reason to believe Mr. Hoggins sups on 
bread-and-cheese and beer every night." 

"Marry!" said Miss Matty once again. "Well! I never 
thought of it. Two people that we know going to be married. 
It's coming very near ! " 

" So near that my heart stopped beating, when I heard of it, 
while you might have counted twelve," said Miss Pole. 

"One does not know whose turn may come next. Here, 



ENGAGED TO BE MARRIED. 1 25 

in Cranford, poor Lady Glenmire might have thought herself 
safe," said Miss Matty, with a gentle pity in her tones. 

"Bah!" said Miss Pole, with a toss of her head. "Don't 
you remember poor dear Captain Brown's song ' Tibbie Fowler,' 
and the line — 

* Set her on the Tintock Tap, 
The wind will blaw a man till her.' " 

*' That was because ' Tibbie Fowler' was rich, I think." 

" Well! there is a kind of attraction about Lady Glenmire 
that I, for one, should be ashamed to have." 

I put in my wonder. "But how can she have fancied Mr. 
Hoggins ?• I am not surprised that Mr. Hoggins has liked her." 

"Oh ! I don't know. Mr. Hoggins is rich, and very plea- 
sant-looking," said Miss Matty, " and very good-tempered and 
kind-hearted." 

" She has married for an establishment, that's it. I suppose 
she takes the surgery with it," said Miss Pole, with a little dry 
laugh at her own joke. But, hke many people who think they 
have made a severe and sarcastic speech, which yet is clever of 
its kind, she began to relax in her grimness from the moment 
when she made this allusion to the surgery ; and we turned to 
speculate on the way in which Mrs. Jamieson would receive the 
news. The person whom she had left in charge of her house to 
keep off followers from her maids to set up a follower of her 
own ! And that follower a man whom Mrs. Jamieson had 
tabooed as vulgar, and inadmissible to Cranford society, not 
merely on account of his name, but because of his voice, his 
complexion, his boots, smelling of the stable, and himself, 
smelling of drugs. Had he ever been to see Lady Glenmire at 
Mrs. Jamieson's ? Chloride of lime would not purify the house 
in its owner's estimation if he had. Or had their interviews 
been confined to the occasional meetings in the chamber of the 
poor sick conjuror, to whom, with all our sense of the mis- 
allla?ice, we could not help allowing that they had both been 
exceedingly kind? And now it turned out that a servant of 
Mrs. Jamieson's had been ill, and Mr. Hoggins had been 
attending her for some weeks. So the wolf had got into the 
fold, and now he M'as carrying off the shepherdess. What 
would Mrs. Jamieson say? We looked into the darkness of 
futurity as a child gazes after a rocket up in the cloudy sky, full 



126 CRANFORD. 

of wondering expectation of tlie rattle, the discharge, and the 
brilliant shower of sparks and light. Then we brought our- 
selves down to earth and the present time by questioning each 
other (being all equally ignorant, and all equally without the 
slightest data to build any conclusions upon) as to when it 
would take place? Where? How much a year Mr. Hoggins 
had? Whetlier she would drop her title? And how Marrha 
and V.iQ other correct servants in Cranford would ever be 
brought to announce a niarried couple as Lady Glenraire and 
Mr.' Hoggins? But would they be visited? V/ould IsTrs. 
Jamieson let us? Or must we choose betv/een the Honour- 
able IMrs. Jamieson and the degraded Lady Glenmire? AVe 
all liked Lady Glenmire the best. She was bright, and kind, 
and sociable, and agreeable ; and Mrs. Jamieson was dull, ar.d 
inert, and pompous, and tiresome. But we had acknowledged 
the sway of the latter so long, that it seemed like a kind of dis- 
loyalty now even to meditate disobedience to the prohibition vre 
anticipated. 

Tslrs. Forrester surprised us in our darned caps and patched 
collars ; and we forgot all about them in our eagerness to see 
how she would bear the information, which we honourably le.'t 
to Miss Pole to impart, although, if we had been inclined to 
take unfair advantage, we might have rushed in ourselves, for 
she had a most out-of- place fit of coughing for five minulcs 
after Mrs. Forrester entered the room, I shall never forget the 
imploring expression of her eyes, as she looked at us over her 
pocket-handkerchief. They said, as plain as words could speak, 
"Don't let Nature deprive me of the treasure which is mine, 
although for a time I can make no use of it." And vv-e did not. 

Mrs. Forrester's surprise was equal to ours ; and he^r sense of 
injury rather greater, because she had to feel for her Order, and 
saw more fully than we could do how such conduct brought 
stains on the aristocracy. 

When she and Miss Pole left us we endeavoured to subside 
into calmness ; but Miss Matty was really upset by the intel- 
ligence she had heard. She reckoned it up, and it was more than 
fifteen years since she had heard of any of her acquaintance 
going to be married, with the one exception of Miss Jessie 
Brown ; and, as she said, it gave her quite a shock, and made 
her feel as if she could not think what would happen next. 

I don't know whether it is a fancv of mine, or a real fact, but 



ENGAGED TO BE MARRIED. 1 27 

I have noticed that, just after the announcement of an engage- 
ment in aTiy set, the unmarried ladies in that set flutter out in 
an unusual gaiety and newness of dress, as much as to say, in 
a tacit and unconscious manner, "We also are spinsters." 
Miss Matty and Miss Pole talked and thought more about 
bonnets, gowns, caps, and shawls, during the fortnight that 
succeeded this call, than I had known them do for 3'ears before. 
But it might be the spring w^eather, for it was a warm and 
pleasant March ; and merinoes and beavers, and woollen 
materials of all sorts were but ungracious receptacles of the 
bright sun's glancing rays. It had not been Lady Glenmire's 
dress that had won Mr. Hoggins's heart, for slie went about 
on her errands of kindness more shabby than ever. Although 
in the hurried glimpses I caught of her at church or elsewhere 
she appeared rather to slmn meeting any of her friends, her 
face seemed to have almost something of the flush of youth 
in it ; her lips looked redder and more trembling full than in 
their old compressed state, and her eyes dwelt on all tilings 
with a lingering light, as if she v/as learning to love Cranford 
and its belongings. Mr. Hoggins looked broad and radiant, 
and creaked up the middle aisle at church in a bran-new pair 
of top-boots — an audible, as well as visible, sign of his purposed 
change of state ; for the tradition Vv'ent, that the boots he had 
worn till now were the identical pair in which he first set out 
on his rounds in Cranford twenty-five years ago ; only they 
had been new-pieced, high and low, top and bottom, heel and 
sole, black leather and brown leather, more times than any one 
could tell. 

None of the ladies in Cranford chose to sanction the marriage 
by congratulating either of the parties. We wished to ignore 
the whole affair until our liege lady, Mrs. Jamieson, returned. 
Till she came back to give us our cue, we felt that it would 
be better to consider the engagement in the same light as the 
Queen of Spain's legs — facts which certainly existed, but the 
less said about the better. This restraint upon our tongues — • 
for you see if we did not speak about it to any of the parties 
concerned, how could we get answers to the questions that 
we longed to ask ? — v/as beginning to be irksome, and our 
idea of the dignity of silence was paling before our curiosity, 
when another direction was given to our thoughts, by an 
announcement on the part of tlie principal shopkeeper of 



128 CRANFORD. 

Cranford, who ranged the trades from grocer and cheese- 
monger to man-milliner, as occasion required, that the spring 
fashions were arrived, and would be exhibited on the follow- 
ing Tuesday at his rooms in High Street. Now Miss Matty- 
had been only waiting for this before buying herself a new 
silk gown. I had offered, it is true, to send to Drumble for 
patterns, but she had rejected my proposal, gently implying 
that she had not forgotten her disappointment about the sea- 
green turban. I was thankful that I was on the spot now, to 
counteract the dazzling fascination of any yellow or scarlet silk. 
I must say a word or two here about myself. I have spoken 
of my father's old friendship for the Jenkyns family ; indeed, 
I am not sure if there was not some distant relationship. He 
had willingly allowed me to remain all the winter at Cranford, 
in consideration of a letter which Miss Matty had written to 
him about the time of the panic, in which I suspect she had 
exaggerated my powers and my bravery as a defender of the 
house. But now that the days were longer and more cheerful, 
he was beginning to urge the necessity of my return ; and I 
only delayed in a sort of odd forlorn hope that if I could obtain 
any clear information, I might make the account given by the 
signora of the Aga Jenkyns tally with that of " poor Peter," his 
appearance and disappearance, which I had winnowed out of 
the conversation of Miss Pole and Mrs. Forrester, 



CHAPTER Xni. 

STOPPED PAYMENT. 

The very Tuesday morning on which Mr. Johnson was going 
to show the fashions, the post-woman brought two letters to 
the house. I say the post-woman, but I should say the post- 
man's wife. He was a lame shoemaker, a very clean, honest 
man, much respected in the town ; but he never brought the 
letters round except on unusual occasions, such as Christmas 
Day or Good Friday ; and on those days the letters, which 
should have been delivered at eight in the morning, did not 
make their appearance until two or three in the afternoon, 
for every one li];ed pocr Tlionms, and gave him a welcome 



STOPPED PAYMENT. I29- 

on these festive occasions. He used to say, "He was welly 
stawed wi' eating, for there were three or four houses where 
nowt would serve 'em but he must share in their breakfast ; '" 
and by the time he had done his last breakfast, he came to 
some other friend who was beginning dinner ; but come what 
might in the way of temptation, Tom was always sober, civil, 
and smiling ; and, as Miss Jenkyns used to say, it was a lesson 
in patience, that she doubted not would call out that precious 
quality in some minds, where, but for Thomas, it might have 
lain dormant and undiscovered. Patience was certainly very 
dormant in Miss Jenkyns's mind. She was always expecting 
letters, and always drumming on the table till the post-woman 
had called or gone past. On Christmas Day and Good Friday 
she drummed from breakfast till church, from church-time till 
two o'clock — unless when the fire wanted stirring, when she in- 
variably knocked down the fire-irons, and scolded Miss Matty 
for it. But equally certain was the hearty welcome and the 
good dinner for Thomas ; Miss Jenkyns standing over him like 
a bold dragoon, questioning him as to his children — what they 
were doing — what school they went to ; upbraiding him if 
another was likely to make its appearance, but sending even 
the little babies the shilling and the mince-pie which was her 
gift to all the children, with half-a-crown in addition for both 
father and mother. The post was not half of so much con- 
sequence to dear Miss Matty ; but not for the world would 
she have diminished Thomas's welcome and his dole, though 
I could see that she felt rather shy over the ceremony, which 
had been regarded by Miss Jenkyns as a glorious opportunity 
for giving advice and benefiting her fellow-creatures. Miss 
Matty would steal the money all in a lump into his hand, as 
if she were ashamed of herself. Miss Jenkyns gave him each 
individual coin separate, with a "There! that's for yourself; 
that's for Jenny," &c. Miss Matty would even beckon Martha 
out of the kitchen while he ate his food : and once, to my 
knowledge, winked at its rapid disappearance into a blue 
cotton pocket-handkerchief. Miss Jenkyns almost scolded him 
if he did not leave a clean plate, however heaped it might have 
been, and gave an injunction with every mouthful. 

I have wandered a long way from the two letters that 
awaited us on the breakfast-table that Tuesday morning. Mine 
was from my father. Miss Matty's was printed. My father's 

E 



IjO CRANFORD. 

was just a man's letter ; I mean it was very dull, and gave no 
information beyond that he was well, that they had had a good 
deal of rain, that trade was very stagnant, and there were many- 
disagreeable rumours afloat. He then asked me if I knew 
whether Miss Matty still retained her shares in the Town and 
County Bank, as there were very unpleasant reports about it ; 
though nothing more than he had always foreseen, and had 
prophesied to Miss Jenkyns years ago, when she would invest 
their little property in it — the only unwise step that clever 
woman had ever taken, to his knowledge (the only time she 
ever acted against his advice, I knew). However, if anything 
had gone wrong, of course I was not to think of leaving Miss 
Matty while I could be of any use, &c. 

"Who is your letter from, my dear? IMine is a very civil 
invitation, signed ' Edwin Wilson,* asking me to attend an 
important meeting of the shareholders of the Town and County- 
Bank, to be held in Drumble, on Thursday the twenty-first. 
I am sure, it is very attentive of them to remember me." 

I did not like to hear of this "important meeting," for, 
though I did not know much about business, I feared it con- 
firmed what my father said : however, I thought, ill news 
always came fast enough, so I resolved to say nothing about 
my alarm, and merely told her that my father was well, and 
sent his kind regards to her. She kept turning over and 
admiring her letter. At last she spoke — 

' ' I remember their sending one to Deborah just like this ; 
but that I did not wonder at, for everybody knew she was so 
clear-headed. I am afraid I could not help them much ; indeed, 
if they came to accounts, I should be quite in the way, for I 
never could do sums in my head. Deborah, I know, rather 
wished to go, and went so far as to order a new bonnet for the 
occasion : but when the time came she had a bad cold ; so 
they sent her a very polite account of what they had done. 
Chosen a director, I think it was. Do you think they want 
me to help them to choose a director? I am sure I should 
choose your father at once." 

"My father has no shares in the bank," said I. 

" Oh, no ! I remember. He objected very much to Deborah's 
buying any, I believe. But she was quite the woman of business, 
and always judged for herself ; and here, you see, they have paid 
eight per cent, all these years." 



STOPPED PAYMENT. I3I 

It was a ven' nnconifortal/le subject to me, with my half- 
knowledge ; so I thought I would change the conver:-:ation, 
<md I asked at wliat time she thouglit we had better go and 
see the fashions. " \^'en, my dear," she said, "the tiling is 
this: it is not etiquette to go till after twelve; but then, you 
see, all Cranford will be there, and one does not like to be too 
curious about dress and trinmnings and caps with all the world 
looking on. It is never genteel to be over-curious on these 
occasions. Deborah had the knack of always looking as if the 
latest fashion was nothing new to her ; a manner she had 
caught from Lady Arley, who did see all the new modes in 
London, you know. So I thought we would just slip down this 
morning, soon after breakfast — for I do want half-a-pound of 
tea — and then we could go up and examine the tlhiigs at our 
leisure, and see exactly how my new silk gown must be made ; 
and then, after twelve, we could go with our minds disengaged, 
and free from thoughts of dress." 

We began to talk of Miss Matty's new silk gown. I dis- 
covered that it would be really the first time in her life that she 
had had to choose anything of consequence for herself: for 
Miss Jenkyns had always been the more decided character, 
whatever her taste might have been ; and it is astonishing how 
such people carry the world before them by the mere force of 
will. Miss Matty anticipated the sight of the glossy folds with 
as much delight as if the five sovereigns, set apart for the 
purchase, could buy all the silks in the shop ; and {remember- 
ing my own loss of two hours in a toyshop before I could tell 
on what wonder to spend a silver threepence) I was very glad 
that we were going early, that dear Miss Matty might have 
leisure for the delights of perplexity. 

If a happy sea-green could be met with, the gown was to be 
sea-green : if not, she inclined to maize, and I to silver grey ; 
and we discussed the requisite number of breadths uniil we 
arrived at the shop-door. We were to buy the tea, select the 
silk, and then clamber up the iron corkscrew stairs that led into 
what was once a loft, though now a fashion show-room. 

The young men at Mr. Johnson's had on tlieir best looks, 
and their best cravats, and pivoted themselves over the counter 
with surprising activity. They wanted to show us upstairs at 
once; but on the principle of business first and pleasure after- 
wards, we stayed to purchase tlie tea. Here Miss Matty's 



132 CRANFORD. 

al:)sence of mind betrayed itself. If she was made aware that 
she had been drinking green tea at any time, she always thought 
it her duty to lie awake half through the night afterward (I 
have known her take it in ignorance many a time without such 
effects), and consequently green tea was prohibited the house ; 
yet to-day she herself asked for the obnoxious article, under the 
impression that she was talking about the silk. However, the 
mistake was soon rectified ; and then the silks were unrolled in 
good truth. By this time the shop was pretty well filled, for 
it was Cranford market-day, and many of the farmers and 
country people from the neighbourhood round came in, sleeking 
down their hair, and glancing shyly al;out, from under their 
eyelids, as anxious to take back some notion of the unusual 
gaiety to the mistress or the lasses at home, and yet feeling 
that they were out of place among the smart shopmen and gay 
shawls and summer prints. One honest-looking man, however, 
made his way up to the counter at which we stood, and boldly 
asked to look at a shawl or two. The other country folk con 
fined themselves to the grocery side ; but our neighbour wa; 
evidently too full of some kind intention towards mistress, wife, 
or daughter, to be shy ; and it soon became a question with 
me, whether he or Miss Matty would keep their shopman the 
longest time. He thought each shawl more beautiful than the 
last ; and, as for Miss Matty, she smiled and sighed over each 
fresh bale that was brought out ; one colour set off another, 
and the heap together would, as she said, make even the rain- 
bow look poor. 

"I am afraid," said she, hesitating, "whichever I choose I 
shall wish I had taken another. Look at this lovely crimson ! 
it would be so warm in winter. But spring is coming on, you 
know. I wish I could have a gown for every season," said she, 
dropping her voice — as we all did in Cranford whenever we 
talked of anything we wished for but could not afford. " How- 
ever," she continued, in a louder and more cheerful tone, "it 
would give me a great deal of trouble to take care of them 
if I had them ; so, I think, I'll only take one. But which must 
it be, my dear?" 

And now she hovered over a lilac with yellow spots, while 
I pulled out a quiet sage-green that had faded into insignifi- 
cance under the more brilliant colours, but which was never- 
theless a good silk in its humble way. Our attention was called 



STOPPED PAYMENT. 1 33 

off to our neighbour. He had chosen a shawl of about thirty 
shilhngs' value ; and his face looked broadly happy, under the 
anticipation, no doubt, of the pleasant surprise he should give 
to some Molly or Jenny at home ; he had tugged a leathern 
purse out of his breeches-pocket, and had offered a five-pound 
note in payment for the shawl, and for some parcels which had 
been brought round to him from the grocery counter ; and it 
was just at this point that he attracted our notice. The shop- 
man was examining the note with a puzzled, doubtful air. 

" Town and County Bank ! I am not sure, sir, but I believe 
we have received a warning against notes issued by this bank 
only this morning. I will just step and ask Mr. Johnson, sir ; 
but I'm afraid I must trouble you for payment in cash, or in 
a note of a different bank." 

I never saw a man's countenance fall so suddenly into dis- 
may and bewilderment. It was almost piteous to see the rapid 
change. 

"Dang it !" said he, striking his fist down on the table, as 
if to try which was the harder, " the chap talks as if notes and 
gold were to be had for the picking up." 

Miss Matty had forgotten her silk gown in her interest for 
the man. I don't think she had caught the name of the bank, 
and in my nervous cowardice I was anxious that she should 
not ; and so I began admiring the yellow-spotted lilac gown 
that I had been utterly condemning only a minute before. But 
it was of no use. 

"What bank was it? I mean, what bank did your note 
belong to?" 

"Town and County Bank." 

"Let me see it," said she quietly to the shopman, gently 
taking it out of his hand, as he brought it back to return it to 
the farmer. 

Mr. Johnson was very sorry, but, from information he had 
received, the notes issued by that bank were little better than 
waste paper. 

"I don't understand it," said Miss Matty to me in a low 
voice. "That is our bank, is it not? — the Town and County 
Bank?" 

"Yes," said I. "This lilac silk will just match the ribbons 
in your new cap, I believe," I continued, holding up the folds 
so as to catcli the light, and wishing that the man would make 



134 CRANFORD. 

haste and be gone, and yet having a new wonder, that had only 
just sprung up, how far it was wise or right in me to allow Miss 
Matty to make this expensive purchase, if the affairs of the bank 
were really so bad as the refusal of the note implied. 

But Miss Matty put on the soft dignified manner peculiar to 
her, rarely used, and yet which became her so well, and laying 
her hand gently on mine, she said— 

" Never mind the silks for a few minutes, dear. I don'i 
understand you, sir," turning now to the shopman, who had 
been attending to the farmer. " Is this a forged note?" 

"Oh, no, ma'am. It is a true note of its kind; but you 
see, ma'am, it Is a joint-stock bank, and there are reports out 
that it is likely to break. Mr. Johnson is only doing his duty, 
ma'am, as I am sure Mr. Dobson knows." 

But Mr. Dobson could not respond to the appealing bow by 
any answering smile. He was turning the note absently over 
in his fingers, looking gloomily enough at the parcel containing 
the lately-chosen shawl. 

"It's hard upon a poor man," said he, " as earns every 
farthing with the sweat of his brow. However, there's no help 
for it. You must take back your shawl, my man ; Lizzie must 
do on with her cloak for a while. And yon figs for the liale 
ones — I promised them to 'em — I'll take them ; but the 'bacco, 
and the other things " • 

" I will give you five sovereigns for your note, my good 
man," said Miss Matty. " I think there is some great mistake 
about it, for I am one of the shareholders, and I'm sure they 
would have told me if things had not been going on right." 

The shopman whispered a word or two across the table 'to 
Miss Matty. She looked at him with a dubious air. 

" Perhaps so," said she. " But I don't pretend to understan('! 
business; I only know that if it is going to fail, and if honest 
people are to lose their money because they have taken our 
notes — I can't explain myself," said she, suddenly becoming 
aware that she had got into a long sentence with four people 
for audience ; " only I would rather exchange my gold for the 
note, if you please," turning to the farmer, " and then you can 
take your wife the shawl. It is only going without my "-gown 
a few days longer," she continued, speaking to me. " The'Ji, 
I have no doubt, everything will be clea.red up." 
■ " But if ii-.is' cleared up th.e wrong way ? " said I. 



STOPPED PAYMENT. 1 35 

*' Why, then it will only have been common honesty in me, 
as a shareholder, to have given this good man the money. I 
am quite clear about it in my own mind ; but, you know, 
I can never speak quite as comprehensibly as others can ; 
only you must give me your note, Mr. Dobson, if you please, 
and go on with your purchases with these sovereigns." 

The man looked at her with silent gratitude — too awkward 
to put his thanks into words ; but he hung back for a minute 
or two, fumbling with his note. 

" I'm loth to make another one lose instead of me, if it is 
a loss ; but, you see, five pounds is a deal of money to a man 
with a family ; and, as you say, ten to one in a day or two the 
note will be as good as gold again." 

" No liope of that, my friend," said the shopman. 

*' The more reason why I should take it," said Miss Matty 
quietly. She pushed her sovereigns towards the man, who 
slowly laid his note down in exchange. "Thank you. I will 
wait a day or two before I purchase any of these silks ; perhaps 
you will then have a greater choice. My dear, will you come 
upstairs?" 

We inspected the fashions with as minute and curious an 
interest as if the gown to be made after them had been bought. 
I could not see that the little event in the shop below had 
in the least damped Miss Matry's curiosity as to the make 
of sleeves or the sit of skirts. She once or twice exchanged 
congratulations with me on our private and leisurely view of thc^ 
bonnets aiid. shawls; but I was, all the time, not so sure that 
our examination was so utterly private, for I caught glimpses 
of a figure dodging behind the cloaks and mantles ; and, by a 
dexterous move, I came face to face with Miss Pole, also in 
morning costume (the principal feature of which was her being 
without teeth, and wearing a veil to conceal the deficiency), 
come on the same errand as ourselves. But she quickly took 
her departure, because, as she said, she had a bad headache, 
and did not feel herself up to conversation. 

As we came dov/n through the shop, the civil Mr. JohnsOn 
■ was awaiting us ; he had been informed of the exchange of 
the note for gold, and with much good feeling and real kinjl- 
ncss, but with a little want of tact, he wished to condole with 
Miss- Matty, and impress upon her the true state of the cfase. 
1 could only }j ope that he had heard an. exaggerated rumour, 



156 CRANFORD. 

for he said that her shares were worse than nothing, and that 
the bank could not pay a shilling in the pound. I was glad 
that Miss Matty seemed still a little incredulous ; but I could 
not tell how much of this was real or assumed, with that self- 
control which seemed habitual to ladies of Miss Matty's 
standing in Cranford, who would have thought their dignity 
compromised by the slightest expression of surprise, dismay, 
or any similar feeling to an inferior in station, or in a public 
shop. However, we walked home very silently. I am ashamed 
. to say, I believe I was rather vexed and annoyed at Miss 
Matty's conduct in taking the note to herself so decidedly. 
- 1 had so set my heart upon her having a new silk gown, which 
she wanted sadly ; in general she was so undecided anybody 
might turn her round ; in this case I had felt that it was no use 
attempting it, but I was not the less put out at the result. 

Somehow, after twelve o'clock, we both acknowledged to a 
sated curiosity about the fashions, and to a certain fatigue of 
body (which was, in fact, depression of mind) that indisposed 
MS to go out again. But still we never spoke of the note ; 
lill, all at once, something possessed me to ask Miss Matty if 
she would think it her duty to offer sovereigns for all the notes 
of the Town and County Bank she met with? I could have 
feitten my tongue out the minute I had said it. She looked 
Up rather sadly, and as if I had thrown a new perplexity into 
ier already distressed mind ; and for a minute or two she did 
isot speak. Then she said — my own dear Miss Matty— without 
3& shade of reproach in her voice — 

" My dear, I never feel as if my mind was what people call 
Tery strong ; and it's often hard enough work for me to settle 
what I ought to do with the case rig;ht before me. I was very 
Miankful to— I was very .thankful, that I saw my duty this 
morning, with the poor man standing by me ; but it's rather a 
Strain upon me to keep thinking and thinking what I should 
^ if such and such a thing happened; and, I believe, I had 
sather wait and see what really does come ; and I don't doubt 
I shall be helped then if I don't fidget myself, and get too 
smxious beforehand. You know, love, I'm not like Deborah. 
If Deborah had lived, I've no doubt she would have seen 
after them, before they had got themselves into this state." 

We had neither of us much appetite for dinner, though we 
ilried to talk cheerfullv about indifferent things. When v,e 



STOPPED PAYMENT. 137 

returned into the drawing-room, Miss Matty unlocked her desk 
and began to look over her account-books. I was so penitent 
for what I had said in the morning, that I did not choose to 
take upon myself the presumption to suppose that I could 
assist her ; I rather left her alone, as, with puzzled brow, her 
eye followed her pen up and down the ruled page. By-and-by 
she shut the book, locked her desk, and came and drew a chair 
to mine, where I sat in moody sorrow over the fire. I stole my 
hand into hers ; she clasped it, but did not speak a word. At 
last she said, with forced composure in her voice, " If that bank 
goes wrong, I shall lose one hundred and forty-nine pounds 
thirteen shillings and fourpence a year ; I shall only have 
thirteen pounds a year left." I squeezed her band hard and 
tight. I did not know what to say. Presently (it was too dark 
to see her face) I felt her fingers work convulsively in my grasp ; 
and I knew she was going to speak again. I heard the sobs in 
her voice as she said, " I hope it's not wrong — not wicked — but, 
oh ! I am so glad poor Deborah is spared this. She could not 
have borne to come down in the world — she had such a noble, 
lofty spirit." 

This was all she said about the sister who had insisted upon 
investing their little property in that unlucky bank. We were 
later in lighting the candle than usual that night, and until 
that light shamed us into speaking, we sat together very silently 
and sadly. 

However, we took to our work after tea with a kind of forced 
cheerfulness (which soon became real as far as it went), talk- 
ing of that never-ending wonder. Lady Glenmire's engagement. 
Miss Matty was almost coming round to think it a good 
thing. 

" I don't mean to deny that men are troublesome in a house. 
I don't judge from my own experience, for my father was neat- 
ness itself, and wiped his shoes on coming in as carefully as any 
woman ; but still a man has a sort of knowledge of what should 
be done in difficulties, that it is very pleasant to have one at 
hand ready to lean upon. Now, Lady Glenmire, instead of 
being tossed about, and wondering where she is to settle, will 
be certain of a home among pleasant and kind people, such as 
our good Miss Pole and Mrs. Forrester. And Mr. Hoggins is 
really a very personable man ; and as for his manners, why, if 
they are not very polished, I have known people with very good 

E 2 



133 CRANFORD. 

hearts, and very clever minds too, who were not what some 
people reckoned refined, but who were both true and tender." 

She fell off into a soft reverie about Mr. Holbrook, and I did 
not interrupt her, I was so busy maturing a plan I had had in 
my mind for some days, but which this threatened failure of the 
bank had brought to a crisis. That night, after Miss Matty 
v/ent to bed, I treacherously lighted the candle again, and sat 
down in the drawing-room to compose a letter to the Aga 
Jenkyns, a letter which should affect him if he were Peter, and 
yet seem a mere statement of dry facts if he were a stranger. 
The church clock pealed out two before I had done. 

The next morning news came, both official and otherwise, 
ihat the Town and County Bank had stopped payment. Miss 
Tvlatty was ruined. 

She tried to speak quietly to me ; but when she came to the 
actual fact that she would have but about five shillings a week 
to live upon, she could not restrain a few tears. 

"lam not crying for myself, dear," said she, wiping them 
away ; " I believe I am crying for the very silly thought of how 
my mother would grieve if she could know ; she always cared 
f jr us so much more than for herself. But many a poor person 
has less, and I am not very extravagant, and, thank God, when 
tlje neck of mutton, and Martha's wages, and the rent are paid, 
1 have not a farthing owing. Poor Martha ! I think she'll be 
sorry to leave me." 

Miss Matty smiled at me through her tears, and she would 
fain have had me see only the smile, not the tears. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

FRIENDS IN NEED. 

It was an example to me, and I fancy it might be to many 
others, to see how immediately Miss Matty set about the re- 
trenchment which she knew to be right under her altered 
circumstances. While she went down to speak to Martha, 
and break the intelligence to her, I stole out wiLh my letter to 
the Aga Jenkyns, and went to the signor's lodgings to obtain 
the exact address. I bound the signora to secrecy ; and indeed 
her mihtary manners had a degree of shortness and reserve in 



FRIENDS IN NEED. 1 39 

them which made her always say as little as possible, except 
when under the pressure of strong excitement. Moreover 
(which made my secret doubly sure), the signor was now so 
far recovered as to be looking forward to travelling and con- 
juring again in the space of a few days, when he, his wife, and 
little Phoebe v/ould leave Cranford. Indeed, I found him look- 
ing over a great black and red placard, in which the Signor 
Brunoni's accomplishments were set forth, and to which only 
the name of the town where he would next display them was 
wanting. He and his wife were so much absorbed in deciding 
where the red letters would come in with most effect (it might 
h^.ve been the Rubric for that matter), that it was some time 
before I could get my question asked privately, and not before 
I had given several decisions, the wisdom of which I questioned 
afterwards with equal sincerity as soon as the signor threw in 
his doubts and reasons on the important subject. At last I got 
the address, spelt by sound, and very queer it looked. I 
dropped it in the post on my way home, and then for a minute 
I stood looking at the wooden pane with a gaping sht which 
divided me from the letter but a moment ago in my hand. It 
was gone from me like life, never to be recalled. It would get 
tossc d about on the sea, and stained with sea-waves perhaps, 
and be carried among palm-trees, and scented with all tropical 
fragrance ; the little piece of paper, but an hour ago so familiar 
and commonplace, had set out on its race to the strange wild 
countries beyond the Ganges ! But I could not afford to lose 
much time on this speculation. I hastened home, that Miss 
Matty might not miss me. Martha opened the door to me, her 
face swollen with crying. As soon as she saw me she burst out 
afresh, and taking hold of my arm she pulled me in, and 
banged the door to, in order to ask me if indeed it was all true 
that Miss Matty had been saying. 

" I'll never leave her! No; I won't. I tailed her so, and 
said I could not think how she could find in her heart to give 
me warning. I could not have had the face to do it, if I'd been 
her. I might ha' been just as good for nothing as Mrs. Fitz- 
Adam's Rosy, who struck for wages after living seven years and 
a half in one place. I said I was not one to go and serve 
Mammon at that rate ; that I knew when I'd got a good ini;:.sus, 
if she didn't know when she'd got a good servant " 

" But, Martha," said I, cutting in while she wiped her eyes. 



I40 CRANFORD. 

"Don't 'but Martha' me," she repHed to my deprecatory- 
tone. 

" Listen to reason" 

"I'll not listen to reason," she said, now in full possession 
of her voice, which had been rather choked with sobbing. 
" Reason always means what some one else has got to say. 
Now I think what I've got to say is good enough reason ; but 
reason or not, I'll say it, and I'll stick tg it. I've money in the 
Savings Bank, and I've a good stock of clothes, and I'm not 
going to leave Miss Matty. No, not if she gives me warning 
every hour in the day ! " 

She put her arms akimbo, as much as to say she defied me ; 
and, indeed, I could hardly tell how to begin to remonstrate 
with her, so much did I feel that Miss Matty, in her increas- 
ing infirmity, needed the attendance of this kind and faithful 
woman. 

" Well " said I at last. 

"I'm thankful you begin with 'well!' If you'd ha' begun 
with ' but,' as you did afore, I'd not ha' listened to you. Now 
you may go on." 

" I know you would be a great loss to Miss Matty, 
Martha " 

" I telled her so. A loss she'd never cease to be sorry for,* 
broke in Martha triumphantly. 

" Still, she will have so little — so very little — to live upon, that 
I don't see just now how she could find you food — ^she will even 
be pressed for her own. I tell you this, Martha, because I feel 
you are like a friend to dear Miss Matty, but you know she 
might not like to have it spoken about." 

Apparently this was even a blacker view of the subject than 
Miss Matty had presented to her, for Martha just sat down on 
the first chair that came to hand, and cried out loud (we had 
been standing in the kitchen). 

At last she put her apron down, and looking me earnestly in 
the face, asked, "Was that the reason Miss Matty wouldn't 
order a pudding to-day? She said she had no great fancy for 
sweet things, and you and she would just have a mutton-chop. 
But I'll be up to her. Never you tell, but I'll make her a 
pudding, and a pudding she'll like, too, and I'll pay for it my- 
self ; so mind you see she eats it. Many a one has been com- 
forted in their sorrow by seeing a good dish come upon the table." 



FRIENDS IN NEED. 141 

I was rather glad that Martha's energy had taken the imme- 
diate and practical direction of pudding-making, for it staved off 
the quarrelsome discussion as to whether she should or should 
not leave Miss Matty's service. She began to tie on a clean 
apron, and otherwise prepare herself for going to the shop 
for the butter, eggs, and what else she might require. She 
would not use a scrap of the articles already in the house 
for her cookery, but went to an old tea-pot in which her 
private store of money was deposited, and took out what she 
wanted. 

I found Miss Matty very quiet, and not a little sad ; but by- 
and-by she tried to smile for my sake. It was settled that I 
was to write to my father, and ask him to come over and hold a 
consultation, and as soon as this letter was despatched we began 
to talk over future plans. Miss Matty's idea was to take a 
single room, and retain as much of her furniture as would be 
necessary to fit up this, and sell the rest, and there to quietly 
exist upon what would remain after paying the rent. For my 
part, I was more ambitious and less contented. I thought of 
all the things by which a woman, past middle age, and with the 
education common to ladies fifty years ago, could earn or add 
to a living without materially losing caste ; but at length I put 
even this last clause on one side, and wondered what in the 
world Miss Matty could do. 

Teaching was, of course, the first thing that suggested itself. 
If Miss Matty could teach children anything, it would throw 
her among the little elves in whom her soul delighted, I ran 
over her accomplishments. Once upon a time I had heard her 
say she could play " Ah ! vous dirai-je, maman?" on the piano, 
but that was long, long ago ; that faint shadow of musical 
acquirement had died out years before. She had also once 
been able to trace out patterns very nicely for muslin embroi- 
dery, by dint of placing a piece of silver paper over the design 
to be copied, and holding both against the window-pane while 
she marked the scollop and eyelet-holes. But that was her 
nearest approach to the accomplishment of drawing, and I did 
not think it would go very far. Then again, as to the branches 
of a solid Enghsh education — fancy work and the use of the 
globes — such as the mistress of the Ladies' Seminary, to which 
all the tradespeople in Cranford sent their daughters, professed 
to teach. Miss Matty's eyes were failing her, and I doubted if 



142 CRANFORD. 

she could discover the number of threads in a worsted-work 
pattern, or rightly appreciate the different shades required for 
Queen Adelaide's face in the loyal wool-work now fashionable 
in Cranford. As for the use of the globes, I had never been 
able to find it 'out myself, so perhaps I was not a good judge of 
Miss Matty's capability of instructing in this branch of educa- 
tion ; but it struck me that equators and tropics, and such 
mystical circles, were very imaginary lines indeed to her, and 
that she looked upon the signs of the Zodiac as so many rem- 
nants of the Black Art. 

What she piqued herself upon, as arts in which she excelled, 
was making candle-lighters, or "spills" (as she preferred 
calling them), of coloured paper, cut so as to resemble feathers 
and knitting garters in a variety of dainty stitches. I had once 
said, on receiving a present of an elaborate pair, that I should 
feel quite tempted to drop one of them in the street, in order to 
have it admired ; but I found this little joke (and it was a very 
little one) was such a distress to her sense of propriety, and was 
taken vv^ith such anxious, earnest alarm, lest the temptation 
might some day prove too strong for me, that I quite regretted 
having ventured upon it. A present of these delicately-wrought 
garters, a bunch of gay "spills," or a set of cards on which 
sewing-silk was wound in a mystical manner, were the v.ell- 
known tokens of Miss Matty's favour. But would any one pay 
to have their children taught these arts ? or, indeed, would 
Miss Matty sell, for filthy lucre, the knack and the skill with 
which she made trifles of value to those who loved her? 

I had to come down to reading, writing, and arithmetic ; 
and, in reading the chapter every morning, she always coughed 
before coming to long words. I doubted her power of getting 
through a genealogical chapter, with any number of coughs. 
Writing she did well and delicately — but spelling ! She seemed 
to think that the more out-of-the-way this was, and the more 
trouble it cost her, the greater the compliment she paid to her 
correspondent ; and words that she would spell quite correctly 
in her letters to me became perfect enigmas when she wrote to 
my father. 

No ! there was nothing she could teach to the rising genera- 
tion of Cranford, unless they had been quick learners and ready 
imitators of her patience, her humility, her sweetness, her quiet 
qontentment with all that she could not do. I pondered and 



FRIENDS IN NEED. 143 

pondered until dinner was announced by Martha, with a face 
all blubbered and swollen with crying. 

Miss Matty had a few little peculiarities which Martha was 
apt to regard as whims below her attention, and appeared to 
consider as childish fancies of which an old lady of fifry-eight 
should try and cure herself. But to-day everything was 
attended to with the most careful regard. The bread was cut 
to the irnaginary pattern of excellence that existed in Miss 
Matty's mind, as being the way which her mother had pre- 
ferred, the curtain was drawn so as to exclude the dead brick- 
wall of a neighbour's stables, and yet left so as to show every 
tender leaf of the poplar which was bursting into spring beauty. 
Martha's tone to Miss Matty was just such as that good, rough- 
spoken servant usually kept sacred for little children, and which 
I had never heard her use to any grown-up person. 

I had forgotten to tell Miss Matty about the pudding, and I 
was afraid she might not do justice to it, for she had evidently 
very little appetite this day ; so I seized the opportunity of 
letting her into the secret while Martha took away the meat. 
Miss Matty's eyes filled with tears, and she could not speak, 
either to express surprise or delight, when Martha returned 
bearing it aloft, made in the most wonderful representation of 
a lion coiichant that ever was moulded. Martha's face gleamed 
with triumph as she set it down before Miss Matty with an 
exultant " There ! " Miss Matty wanted to speak her thanks, 
but could not ; so she took Martha's hand and shock it warmly, 
which set Martha off crying, and I myself could hardly keep 
up the necessary composure. Martha burst out of the room, 
and Miss Matty had to clear her voice once or twice before she 
could speak. At last she said, "I should like to keep this 
pudding under a glass shade, my dear ! " and the notion of the 
lion couchant, with his currant eyes, being hoisted up to the 
place of honour on a mantelpiece, tickled my hysterical fancy, 
and I began to laugh, which rather surprised Miss Matty. 

" I am sure, dear, I have seen uglier things under a glass 
shade before now," said she. 

So had I, many a time and oft, and I accordingly composed 
my countenance (and new I could hardly keep from crying), 
and we both fell to upon the pudding, which was indeed 
excellent — only every morsel seemed to choke us, our hearts 
were so full. 



144 CRANFORD. 

We had too much to think about to talk much that afternoon. 
It passed over very tranquilly. But when the tea-urn was 
brought in a new thought came into my head. Why should 
not Tvliss Matty sell tea— be an agent to the East India Tea 
Company which then existed ? I could see no objections to this 
plan, while the advantages were many — always supposing that 
Miss Matty could get over the degradation of condescending 
to anything like trade. Tea was neither greasy nor sticky — 
grease and stickiness being two of the qualities which Miss 
Matty could not endure. No shop-window would be required. 
A small, genteel notification of her being licensed to sell tea 
would, it is true, be necessary, but I hoped that it could be 
placed where no one would see it. Neither was tea a heavy 
article, so as to tax Miss Matty's fragile strength. The only 
thing against my plan was the buying and selling involved. 

While I was giving but absent answers to the questions Miss 
Matty was putting — almost as absently — we heard a clumping 
sound on the stairs, and a whispering outside the door, which 
indeed once opened and shut as if by some invisible agency. 
After a little while Martha came in, dragging after her a great 
tall young man, all crimson with shyness, and finding his only 
relief in perpetually sleeking down his hair. 

" Please, ma'am, he's only Jem Hearn," said Martha, by way 
of an introduction ; and so out of breath was she that I imagine 
she had had some bodily struggle before she could overcome his 
reluctance to be presented on the courtly scene of Miss IMatilda 
Jenkyns's drawing-room. 

"And please, ma'am, he wants to marry me off-hand. And 
please, ma'am, we want to take a lodger — ^just one quiet lodger, 
to make our two ends meet; and we'd take any house con- 
formable ; and, oh dear Miss Matty, if I may be so bold, would 
you have any objections to lodging with us? Jem wants it as 
much as I do." [To Jem:] — "You great oaf! why can't you 
back me ? — But he does want it all the same, very bad — don't 
you, Jem? — only, you see, he's dazed at being called on to 
speak before quality." 

"It's not that," broke in Jem. "It's that you've taken me 
all on a sudden, and I didn't think for to get married so soon — 
and such quick work does flabbergast a man. It's not that I'm 
against it, ma'am" (addressing Miss Matty), "only Martha has 
such quick ways with her when once she takes a thing into her 



FRIENDS IN NEED. I45 

head ; and marriage, ma'am — marriage nails a man, as one 
may say. I dare say I shan't mind it after it's once over." 

"Please, ma'am," said Martha — who had plucked at his 
sleeve, and nudged him with her elbow, and otherwise tried to 
interrupt him all the time he had been speaking— " don't mind 
him, he'll come to ; 'twas only last night he was an-axing me, 
and an-axing me, and all the more because I said I could not 
think of it for years to come, and now he's only taken aback 
with the suddenness of the joy ; but you know, Jem, you are 
just as full as me about wanting a lodger." (Another great 
nudge.) 

' "Ay! if Miss Matty would lodge with us — otherwise I've no 
mind to be cumbered with strange folk in the house," said Jem, 
with a want of tact which I could see enraged Martha, who was 
trying to represent a lodger as the great object they wished to 
obtain, and that, in fact. Miss Matty would be smoothing their 
path and conferring a favour, if she would only come and live 
with them. 

Miss Matty herself was bewildered by the pair ; their, or 
rather Martha's sudden resolution in favour of matrimony 
staggered her, and stood between her and the contemplation of 
the plan which Martha had at heart. Miss Matty began — 

" Marriage is a very solemn thing, Martha." 

"It is indeed, ma'am," quoth Jem. "Not that I've no 
objections to Martha." 

"You've never let me a-be for asking me for to fix when I 
would be married," said Martha — her face all a-fire, and ready 
to cry with vexation — "and now you're shaming me before rny 
missus and all." 

" Nay, now ! Martha, don't ee ! don't ee ! only a man likes to 
have breathing-time," said Jem, trying to possess himself of her 
hand, but in vain. Then seeing that she was more seriously 
hurt than he had imagined, he seemed to try to rally his 
scattered faculties, and with more straightforward dignity than, 
ten minutes before, I should have thought it possible for him to 
assume, he turned to Miss Matty, and said, " I hope, ma'am, 
you know that I am bound to respect every one who has been 
kind to Martlia. I always looked on her as to be my wife — 
some time ; and she has often and often spoken of you as the 
kindest lady that ever was ; and though the plain truth is, I 
would not like to be troubled with lodgers of the common run. 



146 CRANFORD. 

yet if, ma'am, you'd honour us by living with us, I'm sure 
Martha would do her best to make you comfortable ; and I'd 
keep out of your way as much as I could, which I reckon would 
be the best kindness such an awkward chap as me could do." 

Miss Matty had been very busy with taking off her spectacles, 
wiping them, and replacing them ; but all she could say was, 
"Don't let any thought of me hurry you into marriage: pray 
don't ! Marriage is such a very solemn thing ! " 

" But Miss Matilda will think of 3'our plan, Martha," said I, 
struck with the advantages that it offered, and unwilling to 
lose the opportunity of considering about it. "And I'm sure 
neither she nor I can ever forget your kindness ; nor your's 
either, Jem." 

" Why, yes, ma'am ! I'm sure I mean kindly, though I'm a 
bit fluttered by being pushed straight ahead into matrimony, as 
it were, and mayn't express myself conformable. But I'm sure 
I'm willing enough, and give me time to get accustomed ; so, 
Martha, wench, what's the use of crying so, and slapping me if 
I come near?" 

This last was sotto voce, and had the effect of making 'Martha 
bounce out of the room, to be followed and soothed by her 
lover. Whereupon Miss Matty sat down and cried very heartily, 
and accounted for it by saying that the thought of Martha being 
married so soon gave her quite a shock, and that she should 
never forgive herself if she thought she was hurrying the poor 
creature. I think my pity was miOre for Jem, of the two ; but 
both Miss Matty and I appreciated to the full the kindness of 
the honest couple, although we said little about this, and a 
good deal about the chances and dangers of matrimony. 

The next morning, very early, I received a note from Miss 
Pole, so mysteriously wrapped up, and with so many seals on it 
to secure secrecy, that I had to tear the paper before I could 
unfold it. And when I came to the writing I could hardly 
understand the meaning, it was so involved and oracular. I 
made out, however, that I was to go to Miss Pole's at eleven 
o'clock ; the number eleven being written in full length as well 
as in numerals, and A.M. twice dashed under, as if I were very 
likely to come at eleven at night, when all Cranford was usually 
a-bed and asleep by ten. There was no signature except Miss 
Pole's initials reversed, P. E. ; but as Martha had given me the 
note, "with Miss Pole's kind regards," it needed no wizard 



FRIENDS IN NEED. I47 

to find out who sent it ; and if the writer's name was to be 
kept secret, it was very well that I was alone when Martha 
delivered it. 

I went as requested to Miss Pole's. The door was opened to 
me by her little maid Lizzy in Sunday trim, as if some grand 
event was impending over this work-day. And the drawing- 
room upstairs was arranged in accordance with this idea. The 
table was set out with the best green card-cloth, and writing 
materials upon it. On the little chiffonier w^as a tray wit?i a 
newly-decanted bottle of cowslip wine, and some ladies'-finger 
biscuits. Miss Pole herself was in solemn array, as if to receive 
visitors, although it was only eleven o'clock. Mrs. Forrester 
was there, crying quietly and sadly, and my arrival seemed only 
to call forth fresh tears. Before we had finished our greetings, 
performed with lugubrious mystery of demeanour, there was 
another rat-tat-tat, and Mrs. Fitz-Adam appeared, crimson with 
walking and excitement. It seemed as if this was all the 
company expected ; for now Miss Pole made several demonstra- 
tions of being about to open the business of the meeting, by 
stirring the fire, opening and shutting the door, and cougliing 
and blowing her nose. Then she arranged us all round the 
table, taking care to place me opposite to her ; and last of ail, 
she inquired of me if the sad report was true, as she feared it 
was, that Miss Matty had lost all her fortune ? 

Of course, I had but one answer to make ; and I never saw 
more unaffected sorrow depicted on any countenances than I did 
there on the three before me. 

"I wish Mrs. Jamieson was here!" said Mrs. Forrester at 
last; but to judge from Mrs. Fitz-Adam's face, she could not 
second the ^ish. 

"But without Mrs. Jamieson," said ]Miss Pole, with jii.st a 
sound of offended merit in her voice, " we, the ladies of Cranford, 
in my drawing-room assembled, can resolve upon something. 
I imagine we are none of us what may be called rich, though 
we all possess a genteel competency, sufficient for tastes that are 
elegant and refined, and would not, if they could, be vulgarly 
ostentatious." (Here I observed Miss Pole refer to a small card 
concealed in her hand, on which I imagine she had put dov.n 
a few notes. ) 

" Miss Smith," she continued, addressing me (familiarly known 
as •' Mary" to all the company assembled, but this was a state- 



148 CRANFORD. 

occasion), "I have conversed in private — I made it my business 
to do so yesterday afternoon — with these ladies on the misfortune 
which has happened to our friend, and one and all of us have 
agreed that while we have a superfluity, it is not only a duty, but 
a pleasure — a true pleasure, Mary ! " — her voice was rather 
choked just here, and she had to wipe her spectacles before she 
could go on — " to give what we can to assist her — Miss Matilda 
Jenkyns. Only in consideration of the feelings of delicate inde- 
pendence existing in the mind of every refined female " — I was 
sure she had got back to the card now — ' ' we wish to contribute 
our mites in a secret and concealed manner, so as not to hurt 
the feelings I have referred to. And our object in requesting you 
to meet us this morning is that, believing you are the daughter — 
that your father is, in fact, her confidential adviser in all pecuniary 
matters, we imagined that, by consulting with him, you might 
devise some mode in which our contribution could be made to 
appear the legal due which Miss Matilda Jenkyns ought to 
receive from Probably your father, knowing her invest- 
ments, can fill up the blank." 

Miss Pole concluded her address, and looked round for ap- 
proval and agreement. 

"I have expressed your meaning, ladies, have I not? And 
while Miss Smith considers what reply to make, allow me to 
offer you some little refreshment." 

I had no great reply to make : I had more thankfulness at 
my heart for their kind thoughts than I cared to put into words ; 
and so I only mumbled out something to the effect "that I 
would name what Miss Pole had said to my father, and that if 
anything could be arranged for dear Miss Matty,' — and here I 
broke down utterly, and had to be refreshed with a glass of cow- 
slip wine before I could check the crying which had been re- 
pressed for the last two or three days. The worst was, all the 
ladies cried in concert. Even Miss Pole cried, who had said a 
hundred times that to betray emotion before any one was a sign 
of weakness and want of self-control. She recovered herself into 
a slight degree of impatient anger, directed against me, as hav- 
ing set them all off; and, moreover, I think she was vexed that 
I could not make a speech back in return for hers ; and if I had 
known beforehand what was to be said, and had a card on 
which to express the probable feelings that would rise in my 
heart, I would have tried to gratifv her. As it was, Mrs. 



FRIENDS IN NEED. I49 

Forrester was the person to speak when we had recovered our 
composure. 

"I don't mind, among friends, stating that I — no ! I'm not 
poor exactly, but I don't think I'm what you may call rich ; I 
wish I were, for dear Miss Matty's sake — but, if you please, I'll 
write down in a sealed paper what I can give. I only wish it 
was more : my dear Mary, I do indeed." 

Now I saw why paper, pens, and ink were provided. Every 
lady wrote down the sum she could give annually, signed the 
paper, and sealed it mysteriously. If their proposal was ac- 
ceded to, my father was to be allowed to open the papers, 
under pledge of secrecy. If not, they were to be returned to 
their writers. 

When this ceremony had been gone through, I rose to depart ; 
but each lady seemed to wish to have a private conference with 
me. Miss Pole kept me in the drawing-room to explain why, in 
Mrs. Jamieson's absence, she had taken the lead in this " move- 
ment," as she was pleased to call it, and also to inform me that 
she had heard from good sources that Mrs. Jamieson was coming 
home directly in a state of high displeasure against her sister-in- 
law, who was forthwith to leave her house, and was, she believed, 
to return to Edinburgh that very afternoon. Of course this piece 
of intelligence could not be communicated before Mrs. Fitz- 
Adam, more especially as Miss Pole was inclined to think that 
Lady Glenmire's engagement to Mr. Hoggins could not possibly 
hold against the blaze of Mrs. Jamieson's displeasure. A few 
hearty inquiries after Miss Matty's health concluded my interview 
with Miss Pole. 

On coming downstairs I found Mrs. Forrester waiting for me 
at the entrance to the dining-parlour ; she drew me in, and when 
the door was shut, she tried two or three times to begin on some 
subject, which was so unapproachable apparently, that I began 
to despair of our ever getting to a clear understanding. At last 
out it came ; the poor old lady trembling all the time as if it 
were a great crime which she was exposing to daylight, in teUing 
me how very, very little she had to live upon ; a confession 
which she was brought to make from a dread lest we should 
think that the small contribution named in her paper bore any 
proportion to her love and regard for Miss Matty. And yet that 
sum which she so eagerly relinquished was, in truth, more than a 
twentieth part of what she had to live upon, and keep house, and 



153 CRANFORD. 

a "little serving-maid, all as became one horn a Tyrrell. And 
when the whole income does not nearly amount to a hundred 
pounds, to give up a twentieth of it will necessitate many care- 
ful economies, and many pieces of self-denial, small and insig- 
r.ificant in the world's account, but bearing a different value in 
another account-book that I have heard of. She did so wish 
she was rich, she said, and this wish she kept repeating, with 
no thought of herself in it, only with a longing, yearning desire 
to be able to heap up Miss Matty's measure of comforts. 

It was some time before I could console her enough to leave 
her ; and then, on quitting the house, I was waylaid by Mrs. 
Fitz-Adam, who had also her confidence to make of pretty 
nearly the opposite description. She had not liked to put down 
all that she could afford and was ready to give. She told me 
she thought she never could look Miss Matty in the face again 
if she presumed to be giving her so much as she should like 
to do. "Miss Matty!" continued she, "that I thought was 
such a fine young lady when I was nothing but a country girl, 
coming to market with eggs and butter and such like things. 
For my father, though well-to-do, would always make me go 
on as my mother had done before me, and I had to come into 
Cranford every Saturday, and see after sales, and prices, and 
what not. And one day, I remember, I met Miss Matty in 
the lane that leads to Combehurst ; she was walking on the 
footpath, which, you know, is raised a good way above the 
road, and a gentleman rode beside her, and was talking to her, 
and she was looking down at some primroses she had gathered, 
j;nd puUing them all to pieces, and I do believe she was crying. 
But after she had passed, she turned round and ran after me 
to ask — oh, so kindly — about my poor mother, who lay on her 
death-bed ; and when I cried she took hold of my hand to com- 
fort me —and the gentleman waiting for her all the time — and 
her poor heart very full of something, I am sure ; and I thought 
it such an honour to be spoken to in that pretty way by the 
rector's daughter, who visited at Arley Hall. I have loved 
her ever since, though perhaps Fd no right to do it ; but if 
you can think of any way in which I might be allowed to give 
a little more without any one knowing it I should be so much 
obliged to you, my dear. And my brother would be delighted 
to doctor her for nothing — medicines, leeches, and all. I know 
that he and her ladyship (my dear, I little thought in the days I 



FRIENDS IN NEED. 151 

was telling you of that I should ever come to be sister-in-law to 
a ladyship !) would do anything for her. We all would." 

I told her I was quiie sure of it, and promised all sorts of 
things in my anxiety to get home to Miss Matty, who might 
well be wondering what had become of me — absent from her 
two hours without being able to account for it. She had 
taken very Httle note of time, however, as she had been 
occupied in numberless little arrangements preparatory to 
the great step of giving up her house. It was evidently a 
relief to her to be doing something in the way of retrench- 
ment; for, as she said, whenever she paused to think, the re- 
collection of the poor fellow with his bad five-pound note came 
over her, and she felt quite dishonest ; only if it made her so 
uncomfortable, what must it not be doing to the directors of 
the bank, who must know so much more of the misery conse- 
quent upon this failure? She almost made me angry by 
dividing her sympathy between these directors (whom she 
imagined overwhelmed by self-reproach for the mismanage- 
ment of other people's affairs) and those who were suffering 
like her. Indeed, of the two, she seemed to think poverty a 
lighter burden than self-reproach ; but I privately doubted if 
the directors would agree with h?r. 

Old hoards were taken out and examined as to their money 
value, which luckily was small, or else I don't know how Miss 
Matty would have prevailed upon herself to part with such 
things as her mother's wedding-ring, the strange, uncouth 
brooch with which her father had disfigured his shirt-frill, &c. 
However, we arranged things a little in order as to their 
pecuniary estimation, and were all ready for my father when 
he came the next morning. 

I am not going to weary you with the details of all the busi- 
ness we went through ; and one reason for not telling about 
them is, that I did not understand what we were doing at the 
time, and cannot recollect it now. Miss Matty and I sat 
assenting to accounts, and schemes, and reports, and docu- 
ments, of which I do not believe we either of us understood a 
word ; for my father was clear-headed and decisive, and a 
capital man of business, and if we made the slightest inquiry, 
or expressed the slightest want of comprehension, he had a 
sharp way of saying, "Eh? eh? it's as clear as daylight. 
What's your objection?" And as we had not comprehended 



152 CRANFCRD. 

anything of what he had proposed, we found it rather difficult 
to shape our objections ; in fact, we never were sure if we had 
any. So presently Miss Matty got into a nervously acquiescent 
state, and said "Yes," and " Certainly," at every pause, whether 
required or not ; but when I once joined in as chorus to a 
"Decidedly," pronounced by Miss Matty in a trembhngly 
dubious tone, my father fired round at me and asked me "What 
there was to decide?" And I am sure to this day I have never 
known, ^ut, in justice to him, I must say he had come over 
from Drumble to help Miss Matty when he could ill spare the 
time, and when his own affairs were in a very anxious state. 

While Miss Matty was out of the room giving orders for 
luncheon — and sadly perplexed between her desire of honour- 
ing my father by a delicate, dainty meal, and her conviction 
that she had no right, now that all her money was gone, to 
indulge this desire — I told him of the meeting of the Cranford 
ladies at Miss Pole's the day before. He kept brushing his 
hand before his eyes as I spoke — and when I went back to 
Martha's offer the evening before, of receiving Miss Matty as 
a lodger, he fairly walked away from me to the window, and 
began drumming with his fingers upon it. Then he turned 
abruptly round, and said, "See, Mary, how a good, innocent 
life makes friends all around. Confound it ! I could make a 
good lesson out of it if I were a parson ; but, as it is, I can't 
get a tail to my sentences — only I'm sure you feel what I want 
to say. You and I will have a walk after lunch and talk a bit 
more about these plans." 

The lunch — a hot savoury mutton-chop, and a little of the 
cold loin sliced and fried — was now brought in. Every morsel 
of this last dish was finished, to Martha's great gratification. 
Then my father bluntly told Miss Matty he wanted to talk to 
me alone, and that he would stroll out and see some of the old 
places, and then I could tell her what plan we thought desir- 
able. Just before we went out, she called me back and said, 
"Remember, dear, I'm the only one left — I mean, there's no 
one to be hurt by what I do. I'm willing to do anything that's 
right and honest ; and I don't think, if Deborah knows where she 
is, she'll care so very much if I'm not genteel ; because, you see, 
she'll know all, dear. Only let me see what I can do, and pay 
the poor people as far as I'm able." 

I gave her a hearty kiss, and ran after my father. The result 



FRIENDS IN NEED. 1 53 

of our conversation was this. If all parties were agreeable, 
Martha and Jem were to be married with as little delay as 
possible, and they were to live on in Miss Matty's present abode ; 
the sum which the Cranford ladies had agreed to contribute 
annually being sufficient to meet the greater part of the rent, and 
leaving Martha free to appropriate what Miss Matty should pay 
for her lodgings to any little extra comforts required. About 
the sale, my father was dubious at first. He said the old 
rectory furniture, however carefully used and reverently treated, 
would fetch very little ; and that Httle would be but as a drop 
in the sea of the debts of the Town and County Bank. But 
when I represented how Miss Matty's tender conscience would 
be soothed by feeling that she bad done what she could, he 
gave way ; especially after I had told him the five-pound note 
adventure, and he had scolded me well for allowing it. I then 
alluded to my idea that she might add to her small income by 
selling tea ; and, to my surprise (for I had nearly given up the 
plan), my father grasped at it with all the energy of a trades- 
man. I think he reckoned his chickens before they were hatched, 
for he immediately ran up the profits of the sales that she could 
effect in Cranford to more than twenty potmds a year. I'he 
small dining-parlour was to be converted into a shop, without 
any of its degrading characteristics ; a table was to be the 
counter ; one window was to be retained unaltered, and the other 
changed into a glass door. I evidently rose in his estimation for 
having made this bright suggestion. I only hoped we should 
not both fall in Miss Matty's. 

But she was patient and content with all our arrangements. 
She knew, she said, that we should do the best we could for 
her ; and she only hoped, only stipulated, that she should pay 
every farthing that she could be said to owe, for her father's 
sake, who had been so respected in Cranford. My father and 
I had agreed to say as httle as possible about the bank, indeed 
never to mention it again, if it could be helped. Some of the 
plans were evidently a little perplexing to her ; but she had 
seen me sufficiently snubbed in the morning for want of com- 
prehension to venture on too many inquiries now ; and ail 
passed over well with a hope on her part that no one would be 
hurried into marriage on her account. When we came to the 
proposal that she should sell tea, I could see it was rather a 
shock to her ; not on account of any personal loss of gentility 



1.54 CRz\NFORD. 

involved, but only because she distrusicd her own powers of 
action in a new line of life, and would timidly have preferred a 
Uttle more privation to any exertion for which she feared she 
was unfitted. However, when she saw my father was bent upon 
it, she sighed, and said she would try ; and if she did not do 
well, of course she might give it up. One good thing about it 
was, she did not think men ever bought tea ; and it was of men 
particularly she was afraid. They had such sharp loud ways 
with them ; and did up accounts, and counted their change so 
quickly ! Now, if she might only sell comfits to children, she 
was sure she could please them ! 



CHAPTER XV. 

A HAPPY RETURN. 

Before I left Miss Matty at Cranford everything had been 
comfortably arranged for her. Even Mrs. Jamieson's approval 
of her selling tea had been gained. That oracle hr.d taken a 
few days to consider whether by so doing Miss Matty would 
forfeit her right to the privileges of society in Cranford, I 
think she had some little idea of mortifying Lady Glenmire 
by the decision she gave at last ; which was to this effect : that 
whereas a married woman takes her husband's rank by the strict 
laws of precedence, an unmarried woman retains the station 
her father occupied. So Cranford was allowed to visit Miss 
Matty ; and, whether allowed or not, it intended to visit Lady 
Glenmire. 

But what was our surprise — ou:r dismay — when we learnt that 
Mr. and Mrs. Hoggins were returning on the following Tuesday. 

: Mrs. Hoggins ! Had she absolutely dropped her title, and so, 
in a spirit of bravado, cut the aristocracy to become a Hoggins! 
She, who might have been called Lady Glenmire to her dying 

- day ! Mrs. Jamieson was pleased^ She said it only convinced 
her of ^yhat she had, known from the first, that the creature 
had a low taste. But "the creature" lool;ed very happy on 
Sunday at church ; nor did, we see it necessary to keep our veils 

• down on that side of our bonnets on which Mr. and I'.Irs, 

, Hoggins sat, as Mrs. Jamieson did ; thereby missing all the 



A HAPPY RETURN. 1 55 

smiling glory of his face, and all the becoming blushes of hers. 
I am not sure if Martha and Jem looked more radiant in the 
afternoon, when they, too, made their first appearance. Mrs, 
Jciniieson soothed the turbulence of her soul by having the blinds 
of her windows drawn down, as if for a funeral, on the day when 
Mr. and Mrs. Hoggins received callers : and it was with some 
difficulty that she was prevailed upon to continue the S^. 
James s Chi'-onicle, so indignant was she with its having inserted 
the announcement of the marriage. 

Miss Matty's sale went off famously. ■ She retained the furni- 
ture of her sitting-room and bedroom ; the former of which 
she was to occupy till Martha could meet with a lodger who 
might wish to take it ; and into this sitting-room and bedroom 
she had to cram all sorts of things, which were (the auctioneer 
assured her) bought in for her at the sale by an unknown 
friend. I always suspected Mrs. Fitz-Adam of this ; but she 
must have had an accessory, who knew what articles were 
particularly regarded by Miss Matty on account of their associa- 
tions with her early days. The rest of the house looked rather 
bare, to be sure ; all except one tiny bedroom, of which my 
father a^Uowed me to purchase the furniture for my occasional 
use in case of Miss Matty s illness. 

I had expended my own small store in buying all manner of 
comfits and lozenges, in order to tempt the little people v/hom 
Miss Matty loved so much to come about her. Tea in bright 
green canisters, and comfits in tumblers — Miss Matty and I felt 
quite proud as we looked round us on the evening before the 
shop was to be opened. Martha had scoured the boarded floor 
to a white cleanness, and it was adorned with a brilliant piece 
.of oil-cloth, on which customers were to stand before the tabl$- 
counter. The wholesome smell of plaster and whitewash per- 
va.ded the apartment. A very small " Matilda Jenkyns, licensed 
,to sell tea," was hidden under the lintel of the new door, ai;-d 
two boxes of tea, with cabalistic inscriptions all over thei?,i,. 
stood ready to disgorge their contents into the canisters. 

Tvliss Matty, as I ought to have mentioned before, had had 
some scruples of conscience at selling tea when there Wj^s 
already Mr. Johnson in the town, who included it among.dfiis 
numerous commodities; and, before she could quite reconcile 
herself to the adoption of her new business, she had trotted 
riown to his shop, nnl T'own to mo, to t^ll jn'm of tlie project 



156 CRANFORD. 

that was entertained, and to inquire if it was likely to injure 
his business. My father called this idea of hers "great non- 
sense," and "wondered how tradespeople were to get on if 
there was to be a continual consulting of each other's interests, 
which would put a stop to all competition directly." And, per- 
haps, it would not have done in Drumble, but in Cranford it 
answered very well ; for not only did Mr. Johnson kindly put at 
rest all Miss Matty's scruples and fear of injuring his business, 
but I have reason to know he repeatedly sent customers to her, 
saying that the teas he kept were of a common kind, but that 
Miss Jenkyns had all the choice sorts. And expensive tea is 
a very favourite luxury with well-to-do tradespeople and rich 
farmers' wives, who turn up their noses at the Congou and 
Souchong prevalent at many tables of gentility, and will have 
nothing else than Gunpowder and Pekoe for themselves. 

But to return to Miss Alatty. It was really very pleasant to 
see how her unselfishness and simple sense of justice called out 
the same good qualities in others. She never seemed to think 
any one would impose upon her, because she should be so 
grieved to do it to them. I have heard her put a stop to tl^e 
asseverations of the man who brought her coals by quietly saying, 
" I am sure you would be sorry to bring me wrong weight ; " 
and if the coals were short measure that time, I don't believe 
they ever were again. People would have felt as much ashamed 
of presuming on her good faith as they would have done on 
that of a child. But my father says " such simplicity might be 
very well in Cranford, but would never do in the world." And 
I fancy the world must be very bad, for with all my father's 
suspicion of every one with whom he has dealings, and in spite 
of all his many precautions, he lost upwards of a thousand 
pounds by roguery only last year. 

I just stayed long enough to establish Miss Matty in her new 
mode of life, and to pack up the library, which the rector had 
purchased. He had written a very kind letter to Miss Matty, 
saying "how glad he should be to take a library, so well 
selected as he knew that the late Mr. Jenkyns's must have been, 
at any valuation put upon them." And when she agreed to 
this, with a touch of sorrowful gladness that they would go 
back to the rectory and be arranged on the accustomed walls 
once more, he sent word that he feared that he had not room 
for them all, and perhaps Miss Matty would kindly allow 



A HAPPY RETURN. 1 57 

him to leave some volumes on her shelves. But Miss Matty- 
said that she had her Bible and "Johnson's Dictionary," and 
should not have much time for reading, she M^as afraid ; still, 
I retained a few books out of consideration for the rector's 
kindness. 

The money which he had paid, and that produced by the 
sale, was partly expended in the stock of tea, and part of it 
\\as invested against a rainy day — i.e., old age or illness. It 
was but a small sum, it is true ; and it occasioned a few 
evasions of truth and white lies (all of which I think very 
wrong indeed— in theory — and would rather not put them in 
practice), for we knew Miss Matty would be perplexed as to 
her duty if she were aware of any little reserve-fund being 
made for her while the debts of the bank remained unpaid. 
Moreover, she had never been told of the way in which her 
friends were contributing to pay the rent. I should have liked 
to tell her this, but the mystery of the affair gave a piquancy 
to their deed of kindness which the ladies were unwilling to 
give up ; and at first Martha had to shirk many a perplexed 
question as to her ways and means of living in such a house, 
but by-and-by Miss Matty's prudent uneasiness sank down into 
acquiescence with the existing arrangement. 

I left Miss Matty with a good heart. Her sales of tea during 
the first two days had surpassed my most sanguine expectations. 
The whole country round seemed to be all out of tea at once. 
The only alteration I could have desired in Miss Matty's way of 
doing business was, that she should not have so plaintively 
entreated some of her customers not to buy green tea— running 
it. down as slow poison, sure to destroy the nerves, and produce 
all manner of evil. Their pertinacity in taking it, in spite of all 
her warnings, distressed her so much that I really thought she 
would relinquish the sale of it, and so lose half her custom ; 
and I was driven to my wits' end for instances of longevity 
entirely attributable to a persevering use of green tea. But 
the final argument, which settled the question, was a happy- 
reference of mine to the train-oil and tallow candles which the 
Esquimaux not only enjoy but digest. After that she acknow- 
ledged that " one man's meat might be another man's poison," 
and contented herself thenceforward with an occasional remon- 
strance when she thought the purchaser was too young and 
innocent to be acquainted with the evil effects green tea pro- 



I'sB C RAN FORD. 

duced on suuic constilutioiis, and an habitual sigh when people 
old enough to choose more wisely would prefer it. 

I went over from Drumble once a quarter at least to settle 
the accounts, and see after the necessary business letters. 
And, speaking of letters, I began to be very much ashamed of 
remembering my letter to the Aga Jenkyns, and very glad I 
had never named my writing to any one. I only hoped the 
letter w^as lost. No answer came. No sign was made. 

About a year after Miss Matty set up shop, I received one of 
Martha's hieroglyphics, begging me to come to Cranford very 
soon. I was afraid that Miss Matty was ill, and went off that 
very afternoon, and took Martha by surprise when she saw me 
<n opening the door. We went into the kitchen as usual, to 
have our confidential conference, and then Martha told me she 
was expecting her confinement very soon — in a week or tw-o ; 
and she did not think Aliss Matty was aware of it, and she 
wanted me to break the news to her, " for indeed, miss," con- 
tinued Martha, crying hysterically, "I'm afraid she won't 
approve of it, and I'm sure I don't know who is to take care of 
her as she should be taken care of when I am laid up." 

I comforted Martha by telling her I would remain till she 
was about again, and only wished she had told me her reason 
for this sudden summons, as then I would have brought the 
requisite stock of clothes. But Martha was so tearful and 
tender-spirited, and unlike her usual self, that I said as little 
lis possible about myself, and endeavoured rather to comfort 
Martha under all the probable and possible misfortunes which 
came crowding upon her imagination. 

I then stole out of the house-door, and made my appearance 
as if I were a customer in the shop, just to take Miss Matty 
by surprise, and gain an idea of how she looked in her new 
situation. It was warm May weather, so only the little half- 
door was closed ; and Miss Matty sat behind her counter, 
knitting an elaborate pair of garters ; elaborate they seemed to 
me, but the difficult stitch was no weight upon her mind, for 
she was singing in a low voice to herself as her needles went 
rapidly in and out. I call it singing, but I dare say a musician 
would not use that word to the tuneless yet sweet humming of 
the low worn voice. I found out from the words, far more than 
from the attempt at the tune, that it was the Old Hundredth she 
was crooning to herself; but the ciuiet continuous sound told 



A HAPPY RETURN. 159 

of content, and gave me a pleasant feeling, as I stood in the 
street just outside the door, quite in harmony with th.at soft 
May morning. I went in. At first she did not catch who it 
was, and stood up as if to serve me ; but in another minute 
watchful pussy had clutched her knitting, which was dropped 
in eager joy at seeing me. I found, after we had had a little 
conversation, that it was as Martha said, and that Miss Matty 
had no idea of the approaching household event. So I thought 
I would let things take their course, secure that when I went 
to her with the baby in my arms, I should obtain that forgive- 
ness for Martha which she was needlessly frightening herself 
into ■ believing that Miss Matty would withhold, under some 
notion that the new claimant would require attentions from 
its mother that it would be faithless treason to Miss Matty to 
render. 

But I was right. I think that must be an heredita.ry 
quality, for my father says he is scarcely ever wrong. One 
morning, within a week after I arrived, I went to call Miss 
^vlatty, with a little bundle of flannel in my arms. She was 
very much awe-struck when I showed her what it was, and 
asked for her spectacles off the dressing-table, and looked at 
it curiously, with a sort of tender wonder at its small perfec- 
tion of parts. She could not banish the thought of the sur- 
prise all day, but went about on tiptoe, and was very silent. 
But she stole up to see Martha, and they both cried with joy, 
and she got into a complimentary speech to Jem., and did not 
know how to get out of it again, and was only extricated from 
her dilemma by the sound of the shop-bell, which was an equal 
relief to the shy, proud, honest Jem, who shook my hand so 
vigorously when I congratulated him that I think I feel the pain 
of it yet. 

I had a busy life while Martha was laid up. I attended on 
^liss Matty, and prepared her meals ; I cast up her accounts, 
and examined into the state of her canisters and tumblers. I 
helped her, too, occasionally, in the shop ; and it gave me no 
small amusement, and sometimes a little uneasiness, to watch 
her ways there. If a little child came in to ask for an ounce 
of almond-comfits (and four of the large kind which Miss 
Matty sold weighed that much), she always added one more 
by "way of make-weight," as she called it, although the scale 
was handsomely turned before ; and when I remonstrated 



l6o CRANFORD. 

against this, her reply was, " The h'ttle things like it so much ! " 
There was no use in telling her that the fifth comfit weighed a 
quarter of an ounce, and made every sale into a loss to her 
pocket. So I remembered the green tea, and winged my shaft 
with a feather out of her own plumage. I told her how un- 
wholesome almond-comfits were, and how ill excess in them 
might make the little children. This argument produced some 
effect ; for, henceforward, instead of the fifth comfit, she always 
told them to hold out their tiny palms, into which she shook 
either peppermint or ginger lozenges, as a preventive to the 
dangers that might arise from the previous sale. Altogether 
the lozenge trade, conducted on these principles, did not pro- 
mise to be remunerative ; but I was happy to find she had 
made more than twenty pounds during the last year by her 
sales of tea; and, moreover, that now she was accustomed to 
it, she did not dislike the employment, which brought her into 
kindly intercourse with many of the people round about. If 
she gave them good weight, they, in their turn, brought many 
a little country present to the " old rector's daughter ;" a cream 
cheese, a few new-laid eggs, a little fresh ripe fruit, a bunch of 
flowers. The counter was quite loaded with these offerings 
sometimes, as she told me. 

As for Cranford in general, it was going on much as usual. 
The Jamieson and Hoggins feud still raged, if a feud it could 
be called, when only one side cared much about it. Mr. and 
Mrs. Hoggins were very happy together, and, like most very 
happy people, quite ready to be friendly ; indeed, Mrs. Hoggins 
was really desirous to be restored to Mrs. Jamieson's good 
graces, because of the former intimacy. But Mrs. Jamieson 
considered their very happiness an insult to the Glenmire family, 
to which she had still the honour to belong, and she doggedly 
refused and rejected every advance. Mr. Mulliner, hke a faith- 
ful clansman, espoused his mistress' side with ardour. If he 
saw either Mr. or Mrs. Hoggins, he would cross the street, and 
appear absorbed in the contemplation of life in general, and his 
own path in particular, until he had passed them by. Miss 
Pole used to amuse herself with wondering what in the world 
Mrs. Jamieson would do, if either she, or Mr. Mulliner, or any 
other member of her household, was taken ill ; she could hardly 
h:\ve the face to call in Mr. Hoggins after the way she had 
behaved to them. Miss Pole grew quite impatient for some 



A HAPPY RETURN. l6l 

indisposition or accident to befall Mrs. Jamieson or her depen- 
dants, in order that Cranford might see how she would act 
under the perplexing circumstances. 

Martha was beginning to go about again, and I had already- 
fixed a limit, not very far distant, to my visit, when one after- 
noon, as I was sitting in the shop-parlour with Miss Matty — I 
remember the weather was colder now than it had been in May, 
three weeks before, and we had a fire and kept the door fully- 
closed — we saw a gentleman go slowly past the window, and 
then stand opposite to the door, as if looking out for the name 
which we had so carefully hidden. He took out a double eye- 
glass and peered about for some time before he could discover 
it. Then he came in. And, all on a sudden, it flashed across 
me that it was the Aga himself ! For his clothes had an out-of- 
the-way foreign cut about them, and his face was deep brown, 
as if tanned and re-tanned by the sun. His complexion con- 
trasted oddly with his plentiful snow-white hair, his eyes were 
dark and piercing, and he had an odd way of contracting them 
and puckering up his cheeks into innumerable wrinkles when 
he looked earnestly at objects. He did so to Miss Matty when 
he first came in. His glance had first caught and lingered a 
little upon me, but then turned, with the peculiar searching 
look I have described, to Miss Matty. She was a little fluttered 
and nervous, but no more so than she always was when any 
man came into her shop. She thought that he would probably 
have a note, or a sovereign at least, for which she would have 
to give change, which was an operation she very much disliked 
to perform. But the present customer stood opposite to her, 
without -asking for anything, only looking fixedly at her as he 
drummed upon the table with his fingers, just for all the world 
as Miss Jenkyns used to do. Miss Matty was on the point of 
asking him what he wanted (as she told me afterwards), when 
he turned sharp to me : "Is your name Mary Smith?" 

" Yes !" said I. 

All my doubts as to his identity were set at rest, and I only 
wondered what he would say or do next, and how Miss Matty 
would stand the joyful shock of what he had to reveal. Appa- 
rently he was at a loss how to announce himself, for he looked 
round at last in search of something to buy, so as to gain time, 
and, as it happened, his eye caught on the almond-comfits, and 
he boldly asked for a pound of "those things." I doubt if, 

F 



102 CRANFORD. 

Miss Matty had a whole pound in the shop, and, besides the 
unusual magnitude of the order, she was distressed with the 
idea of the indigestion they would produce, taken in such un- 
limited quantities. She looked up to remonstrate, - Something 
of tender relaxation in his face struck home to her heart. She 
said, "It is — oh sir! can you be Peter?" and trembled from 
head to foot. In a moment he was round the table and had 
her in his arms, sobbing the tearless cries of old age. I brought 
her a glass of wine, for indeed her colour had changed so as to 
alarm me and Mr. Peter too. He kept saying, "I have been 
too sudden for you, Matty — I have, my Httle girl." 

I proposed that she should go at once up into the drawing- 
room and lie down on the sofa there. She looked wistfully at 
lier brother, whose hand she had held tight, even when nearly 
fainting ; but on his assuring her that he would not leave her, 
she allowed him to carry her upstairs. 

I thought that the best I could do was to run and put the 
kettle on the fire for early tea, and then to attend to the shop, 
leaving the brother and sister to exchange some of the many 
thousand things they must have to say. I had also to break 
the news to Martha, who received it with a burst of tears which 
nearly infected me. She kept recovering herself to ask if I was 
sure it was indeed Miss Matty's brother, for I had mentioned 
that he had grey hair, and she had always heard that he was a 
very handsome young man. Something of the same kind per- 
plexed Miss Matty at tea-time, when she was installed in the 
great easy-chair opposite to Mr. Jenkyns's in order to gaze her 
Till. She could hardly drink for looking at him, and as for 
eating, that was out of the question. 

" I suppose hot climates age people very quickly," said she, 
almost to herself. "When you left Cranford you had not a 
j^rey hair in your head." 

" But how many years ago is that?" said Mr. Peter, smiling. 

"Ah, true! yes, I suppose you and I are getting old. But 
5-till I did not think we were so very old ! Bat white hair is 
very becoming to you, Peter," she continued — a little afraid 
lest she had hurt him by revealing how his appearance had 
impressed her. 

" I suppose I forgot dates too, Matty, for what do you think 
I have brought for you from India? I have an Indian muslin 
gown and a pearl necklace for you somewhere in my chest at 



A I-IAPPY RETURN. I.63 

Portsmouth." He smiled as if amused at ti^e idea of the in- 
congruity of his presents with the appearance of his sister ; but 
this did not strike her all at once, while the elegance of the 
articles did. I could see that for a moment her imagination 
dwelt (iomplacendy on the idea of herself thus attired ; and 
instinctively she put her hand up to her throat— that little 
delicate throat which (as Miss Pole had told me) had been 
one of her youthful charms ; but the hand met the touch of 
folds of soft muslin in which she was always swathed up to her 
chin, and the sensation recalled a sense of the unsuitableness 
of a pearl necklace to her age. She said, " I'm afraid Pm too 
old-; but it was very kind of you to think of it. They are just 
what I should have liked years ago — when I was young." 

" So I thought, my little Matty. I remembered your tastes ; 
they were so like my dear mother's." At the mention of that 
name the brother and sister clasped each other's hands yet 
more fondly, and, although they were perfectly silent, I fancied 
they might have something to say if they were unchecked by 
jTiy presence, and I got up to arrange my room for Mr. Peter's 
occupation that night, intending myself to share Miss Matty's 
bed. But at my movement he started up. "I must go and 
settle about a room at the 'George.' My carpet-bag is there 
too." 

"No!" said Miss MatL}^ in great distress — "you must not 
go ; please, dear Peter — pray, Mary — oh ! you must not go ! " 

She was so much agitated that we both promised everything 
she wished. Peter sat down again and gave her his hand, 
which for better security she held in both of hers, and I left the 
room to accomplish my arrangements. 

Long, long into the night, far, far into the morning, did 
Miss Matty and I talk. She had much to tell me of her 
brother's life and adventures, which he had communicated to 
her as they had sat alone. She said all was thoroughly clear 
to her ; but I never quite understood the whole story ; and 
when in after days I lost my awe of Mr. Peter enough to 
question him myself, he laughed at my curiosity, and told me 
stories that sounded so very much like Baron Munchausen's, 
that I was sure he was making fun of me. What I heard from 
Miss Matty was that he had been a volunteer at the siege of 
Rangoon ; had been taken prisoner by the Burmese ; had 
somehow obtained favour and eventual freedom from knew- 



164. CRANFORD. 

ing how to bleed the chief of the small tribe in some case of 
dangerous illness ; that on his release from years of captivity 
he had had his letters returned from England with the ominous 
word "Dead" marked upon them; and, believing himself to 
be the last of his race, he had settled down as an indigo 
planter, and had proposed to spend the remainder of his life 
in the country to whose inhabitants and modes of life he had 
become habituated, when my letter had reached him ; and, 
with the odd vehemence which characterised him in age as it 
had done in youth, he had sold his land and all his possessions 
to the first purchaser, and come home to the poor old sister, 
who was more glad and rich than any princess when she looked 
at him. She talked me to sleep at last, and then I was 
awakened by a slight sound at the door, for which she begged 
my pardon as she crept penitently into bed ; but it seems that 
when I could no longer confirm her belief that the long-lost 
Mas really here — under the same roof — she had begun to fear 
le-^t it was only a waking dream of hers ; that there never had 
been a Peter sitting by her all that blessed evening — but that 
tlis real Peter lay dead far away beneath some wild sea-wave, 
or under some strange eastern tree. And so strong had this 
nervous feeling of hers become, that she was fain to get up 
and go and convince herself that he was really there by listen- 
ing through the door to his even, regular breathing — I don't 
like to call it snoring, but I heard it myself through two closed 
doors — and by-and-by it soothed Miss Matty to sleep. 

I don't believe Mr. Peter came home from India as rich as 
a nabob ; he even considered himself poor, but neither he nor 
Miss Matty cared much about that. At any rate, he had 
enough to live upon "very genteelly" at C ran ford ; he and 
Miss Matty together. And a day or two after his arrival, the 
shop was closed, while troops of little urchins gleefully awaited 
the shower of comfits and lozenges that came from time to time 
down upon their faces as they stood up-gazing at Miss Matty's 
drawing-room windows. Occasionally Miss Matty would say 
to them (half-hidden behind the curtains), "My dear children, 
don't make yourselves ill ; " but a strong arm pulled her back, 
and a more rattling shower than ever succeeded. A part of the 
tea was sent in presents to the Cranford ladies ; and some of it 
was distributed among the old people who remembered Mr. 
Peter in the davs of his frolicsome vouth. The India muslin 



PEACE TO CRANFORD. 1 65 

gown was reserved for darling Flora Gordon (Miss Jessie 
Brown's daughter). The Gordons had been on the Continent 
for the last few years, but were now expected to return very 
soon ; and Miss Matty, in her sisterly pride, anticipated great 
delight in the joy of showing them Mr. Peter. The pearl 
necklace disappeared ; and about that time many handsome 
and useful presents made their appearance in the households 
of Miss Pole and Mrs. Forrester ; and some rare and delicate 
Indian ornaments graced the drawing-rooms of Mrs. Jamieson 
and Mrs. Fitz-Adam. I myself was not forgotten. Among 
other things, I had the handsomest-bound and best edition 
of Dr. Johnson's works that could be procured ; and dear Miss 
Matty, with tears in her eyes, begged me to consider it as a 
present from her sister as well as herself. In short, no one 
was forgotten ; and, what was more, every one, however in- 
significant, who had shown kindness to Miss Matty at any 
time, was sure of Mr. Peter's cordial regard. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

PEACE TO CRANFORD. 

It was not surprising that Mr. Peter became such a favourite at 
Cranford. The ladies vied with each other who should admire 
him most ; and no wonder, for their quiet lives were astonish- 
ingly stirred up by the arrival from India — especially as the 
person arrived told more wonderful stories than Sindbad the 
Sailor ; and, as Miss Pole said, was quite as good as an 
Arabian Night any evening. For my own part, I had vibrated 
all my hfe between Drumble and Cranford, and I thought it 
was quite possible that all Mr. Peter's stories might be true, 
although wonderful ; but when I found that, if we swallowed 
an anecdote of tolerable magnitude one week, we had the dose 
considerably increased the next, I began to have my doubts ; 
especially as I noticed that when his sister was present the 
accounts of Indian life were comparatively tame ; not that she 
knew more than we did, perhaps less. I noticed also that 
when the rector came to call, Mr. Peter talked in a different 
way about the countries he had been in. But I don't think the 



1 65 CR AN FORD. 

ladies in Cranford would have considered him such a wonderful 
traveller if they had only heard him talk in the quiet way he 
did to him. They liked him the better, indeed, for being what 
they called "so very Oriental." 

One day, at a select party in his honour, which Miss Pole 
gave, and from which, as Mrs. Jamieson honoured it with her 
presence, and had even offered to send Mr. Mulliner to wait, 
Mr. and Mrs. Hoggins and Mrs. Fitz-Adam were necessarily 
excluded— one day at Miss Pole's, Mr. Peter said he was tired 
of sitting upright against the hard-backed uneasy chairs, and 
asked if he might not indulge himself in sitting cross-legged. 
Miss Pole's consent was eagerly given, and down he went with 
the utmost gravity. But when Miss Pole asked me, in an 
audible whisper, " if he did not remind me of the Father of the 
Faithful?" I could not help thinking of poor Simon Jones, 
the lame tailor, and while Mrs. Jamieson slowly commented 
on the elegance and convenience of the attitude, I remembered 
how we had all followed that lady's lead in condemning Mr. 
Hoggins for vulgarity because he simply crossed his legs as 
he sat still on his chair. Many of Mr. Peter's ways of eating 
were a little strange amongst such ladies as Miss Pole, and 
Miss Matty, and Mrs. Jamieson, especially when I recollected 
the untasted green peas and two-pronged forks at poor Mr. 
Hoi brook's dinner. 

The mention of that gentleman's name recalls to my mind a 
conversation between Mr. Peter and Miss Matty one evening 
in the summer after he returned to Cranford. The day had 
been very hot, and Miss Matty had been much oppressed by 
the weather, in the heat of which her brother revelled. I 
remember that she had been unable to nurse Martha's baby, 
which had become her favourite employment of late, and which 
was as much at home in her arms as in its mother's, as long as 
it remained a light-weight, portable by one so fragile as Miss 
Matty. This day to which I refer. Miss Matty had seemed 
more than usually feeble and languid, and only revived when 
the sun went down, and her sofa was wheeled to the open 
window, through which, although it looked into the principal 
street of Cranford, the fragrant smell of the neighbouring hay- 
fields came in every now and then, borne by the soft breezes 
that stirred the dull air of the summer twilight, and then died 
away. The silence of the sultry atmosphere was lost in the 



PEACE TO CRANFORD. 1 67 

murmuring noises wriicli came in from many an open window 
and door ; even the cliildren were abroad in the street, late as 
it was (between ten and eleven), enjoying the game of play for 
which they had not had spirits during the heat of the day. It 
was a source of satisfaction to Miss Matty to see how few candli s 
were lighted, even in the apartments of those houses from 
which issued the greatest signs of life. Mr. Peter, Miss Matty, 
and I had all been quiet, each with a separate reverie, for some 
little time, when Mr. Peter broke in — . 

"Do you know, little Matty, I could have sworn you were 
on the high road to matrimony when I left England that last 
time ! If anybody had told me you would have lived and died 
an old maid then, I should have laughed in their faces." 

Miss Matty made no reply, and I tried in vain to think of 
some subject which should effectually turn the conversation ; 
but I was very stupid ; and before I spoke he went on — 

"It was Holbrook, that fine manly fellow who lived at 
Woodley, that I used to think would carry off my little Matty. 
You would not think it now, I dare say, Mary ; but his sister 
of mine was once a very pretty girl — at least, I thought so, 
and so I've a notion did poor Holbrook. What business had 
he to die before I came home to thank him for all his kindness 
to a good-for-nothing cub as I was? It was that that made 
me first think he cared for you ; for in all our fishing expedi- 
tions it was Matty, Matty, we talked about. Poor Deborah ! 
What a lecture she read me on having asked him home to 
lunch one day, when she had seen the Arley carriage in the 
town, and thought that my lady might call. Well, that's long 
years ago ; more than half a life-time, and yet it seems like 
yesterday ! I don't know a fellow I should have liked better 
as a brother-in-law. You must have played your cards badly, 
my little Matty, somehow or another — wanted your brother to 
be a good go-between, eh, little one?" said he, putting out his 
hand to take hold of hers as she lay on the sofa. "Why, 
what's this? you're shivering and shaking, Matty, with that 
confounded open window. Shut it, Mary, this minute ! " 

I did so, and then stooped down to kiss Miss Matty, and 
see if she really were chilled. She caught at my hand, and 
gave it a hard squeeze — but unconsciously, I think — for in a 
minute or two she spoke to us quite in her usual voice, and 
smiled our uneasiness away, althougli she patiently submitted 



l68 CRANFORD. 

to the prescriptions we enforced of a warm bed and a glass of 
weak negus. I was to leave Cranford the next day, and before 
I went I saw that all the effects of the open window had quite 
vanished. I had superintended most of the alterations neces- 
sary in the house and household during the latter weeks of 
my stay. The shop was once more a parlour ; the empty 
resounding rooms again furnished up to the very garrets. 

There had been some talk of establishing Martha and Jem 
in another house, but Miss Matty would not hear of this. 
Indeed, I never saw her so much roused as when Miss Pole 
Iiad assumed it to be the most desirable arrangement. As long 
as Martha would remain with Miss Matty, Miss Matty was 
only too thankful to have her about her ; yes, and Jem too, 
who was a very pleasant man to have in the house, for she 
never saw him from week's end to week's end. And as for the 
probable children, if they would all turn out such little darlings 
as her god-daughter, Matilda, she should not mind the 
number, if Martha didn't. Besides, the next was to be called 
Deborah — a point which Miss Matty had reluctantly yielded to 
Martha's stubborn determination that her first-born was to be 
Matilda. So Miss Pole had to lower her colours, and even 
her voice, as she said to me that, as Mr. and Mrs. Hearn were 
still to go on living in the same house with Miss Matty, we 
had certainly done a wise thing in hiring Martha's niece as 
an auxiliary. 

I left Miss Matty and Mr. Peter most comfortable and con- 
tented ; the only subject for regret to the tender heart of the 
one, and the social friendly nature of the other, being the 
unfortunate quarrel between Mrs. Jamieson and the plebeian 
Hogginses and their following. In joke, I prophesied one 
day that this would only last until Mrs. Jamieson or Mr. 
Mulliner were ill, in which case they would only be too glad 
to be friends with Mr. Hoggins ; but Miss Matty did not like 
my looking forward to anything like illness in so light a 
manner, and before the year was out all had come round in a 
far more satisfactory way. 

I received two Cranford letters on one auspicious October 
morning. Both Miss Pole and Miss Matty wrote to ask me to 
come over and meet the Gordons, who had returned to 
England alive and well with their two children, now almost 
grown up. Dear Jessie Brown had kept her old kind nature, 



PEACE TO CRANFORD. 169 

although she had changed her name and station ; and she 
wrote to say that she and Major Gordon expected to be in Cran- 
ford on the fourteenth, and she hoped and begged to be remem- 
bered to Mrs. Jamieson (named first, as became her honourable 
station), Miss Pole, and Miss Matty — could she ever forget 
their kindness to her poor father and sister? — Mrs. Forrester, 
Mr. Hoggins (and here again came in an allusion to kindness 
shown to the dead long ago), his new wife, who as such must 
allow Mrs. Gordon to desire to make her acquaintance, and 
who was, moreover, an old Scotch friend of her husband's. In 
short, every one was named, from the rector — who had been 
appointed to Cranford in the interim between Captain Brown's 
death and Miss Jessie's marriage, and was now associated 
with the latter event — down to Miss Betsy Barker. All were 
asked to the luncheon ; all except Mrs. Fitz-Adam, who had 
come to live in Cranford since Miss Jessie Brown's days, and 
whom I found rather moping on account of the omission. 
People wondered at Miss Betty Barker's being included in 
the honourable list ; but, then, as Miss Pole said, we must 
remember the disregard of the genteel proprieties of life in 
which the poor captain had educated his girls, and for his 
sake we swallowed our pride. Indeed, Mrs. Jamieson rather 
took it as a compliment, as putting Miss Betty (formerly her 
maid) on a level with " those Hogginses. " 

But when I arrived in Cranford, nothing was as yet ascertained 
of Mrs. Jamieson's own intentions ; would the honourable lady 
go, or would she not ? Mr. Peter declared that she should and 
she would ; Miss Pole shook her head and desponded. But Mr. 
Peter was a man of resources. In the first place, he persuaded 
Miss Matty to write to Mrs. Gordon, and to tell her of Mrs. 
Fitz-Adam's existence, and to beg that one so kind, and cordial, 
and generous, might be included in the pleasant invitation. 
An answer came back by return of post, with a pretty little 
note for Mrs. Fitz-Adam, and a request that Miss Matty would 
deliver it herself and explain the previous omission. Mrs. Fitz- 
Adam was as pleased as could be, and thanked Miss Matty 
over and over again. Mr. Peter had said, "Leave Mrs. 
Jamieson to me ; " so we did ; especially as we knew nothing 
that we could do to alter her determination if once formed. 

I did not know, nor did Miss Matty, how things were going 
on, until Miss Pole asked me, just the day before Mrs. Gordon 

F 3 



lyo CRANFCRD. 

came, if I thought there was anything- between Mr. Peter and 
Mrs. Jamieson in the matrimonial Una, for that Mrs. Jamieson 
was reaUy going to the lunch at the "George." She had sent 
Mr. MuUiner down to desire that there might be a footstool 
put to the warmest seat in the room, as she meant to come, 
and knew that their chairs were very high. Miss Pole had 
picked this piece of news up, and from it she conjectured all 
sorts of things, and bemoaned yet more. "If Peter should 
marry, what would become of poor dear Miss Matty? And 
Mrs. Jamieson, of all people ! " Miss Pole seemed to think 
there were other ladies in Cranford who would have done more 
credit to his choice, and I think she nmst have had some one 
who was unmarried in her head, for she kept saying, "It was 
so wanting in delicacy in a widow to think of such a thing." 

When I got back to Miss Matty's I really did begin to think 
that Mr. Peter might be thinking of Mrs. Jamieson for a wife, 
and I was as unhappy as Miss Pole about it. He had the 
proof sheet of a great placard in his hand. " Signor Brunoni, 
Magician to the King of Delhi, the Rajah of Oude, and the 
great Lama of Thibet," &c. &c., was going to "perform in 
Cranford for one night only," the very next night ; and Miss 
Matty, exultant, showed me a letter from the Gordons, promis- 
ing to remain over this gaiety, which Miss Matty said was 
•entirely Peter's doing. He had written to ask the signor to 
come, and was to be at all the expenses of the affair. Tickets 
Avcre to be sent gratis to as many as the room would hold. 
In short. Miss Matty was charmed with the plan, and said that 
to-morrow Cranford would remind her of the Preston Guild, to 
wiiich she had been in her youth — a luncheon at the " George," 
with the dear Gordons, and the signor in the Assembly Room 
in the evening. But I — I looked only at the fatal words : — 

" Under the Patronage of the Honourable Mrs. Jamieson." 

She, then, was chosen to preside over this entertainment of 
Mr. Peter's ; she was perhaps going to displace my dear Miss 
Matty in his heart, and make her life lonely once more ! I 
could not look forward to the morrow with any pleasure; and 
every innocent anticipation of Miss Matty's only served to add 
to my annoyance. 

So, angry and irritated, and exaggerating every little incident 



PEACE TO CRANFORD. 171 

which could add to my irritation, I went on till we were all 
assembled in the great parlour at the "George." Major and 
Mrs. Gordon and pretty Flora and Mr. Ludovic were all as 
bright and handsome and friendly as could be ; but I could 
hardly attend to them for watching Mr. Peter, and I saw that 
* Miss Pole was equally busy. I had never seen Mrs. Jamieson 
so roused and animated before ; her face looked full of interest 
in what Mr. Peter was saying, I drew near to listen. My relief 
was great when I caught that his words were not words of love, 
but that, for all his grave face, he was at his old tricks. He 
was telling her of his travels in India, and describing the 
wonderful height of the Himalaya mountains : one touch after 
another added to their size, and each exceeded the former in 
absurdity ; but Mrs. Jamieson really enjo}'ed all in perfect good 
faith. I suppose she required strong stimulants to excite her to 
come out of her apathy. Mr. Peter wound up his account by 
saying that, of course, at that altitude there were none of the 
animals to be found that existed in the lower regions ; the game 
— everything was different. Firing one day at some flying 
creature, he was very much dismayed when it fell, to find that 
he had shot a cherubim ! Mr. Peter caught my eye at this 
moment, and gave me such a funny twinkle, that I felt sure he 
had no thoughts of Mrs. Jamieson as a wife from that time. 
She looked uncomfortably amazed — 

" But, Mr. Peter, shooting a cherubim — don't you think — I 
am afraid that was sacrilege ! " 

Mr. Peter composed his countenance in a moment, and 
appeared shocked at the idea, which, as he said truly enough, 
was now presented to him for the first time ; but then Mrs. 
Jamieson must remember that he had been living for a long 
time among savages — all of whom were heathens — some of 
them, he was afraid, were downright Dissenters. Then, seeing 
Miss Matty draw near, he hastily changed the conversation, and 
after a httle while, turning to me, he said, " Don't be shocked, 
prim little Mary, at all my wonderful stories. I consider Mrs. 
Jamieson fair game, and besides I am bent on propitiating her, 
and the first step towards it is keeping her well awake. I bribed 
her here by asking her to let me have her name as patroness for 
my poor conjuror this evening ; and I don't want to give her 
time enough to get up her rancour against the Hogginses, who 
are just coming in. I want everybody to be friends, for it 



172 CRANFORD. 

harasses Matty so much to hear of these quarrels. I shall go at 
it again by-and-by, so you need not look shocked. I intend 
to enter the Assembly Room to-night with Mrs. Jamieson on 
one side, and my lady, Mrs. Hoggins, on the other. You see if 
I don't." 

Somehow or another he did ; and fairly got them into con- 
versation together. Major and Mrs. Gordon helped at the 
good work with their perfect ignorance of any existing coolness 
between any of the inhabitants of Cranford. 

Ever since that day there has been the old friendly sociability 
in Cranford society ; which I am thankful for, because of my 
dear Miss Matty's love of peace and kindliness. We all love 
Miss Matty, and I somehow think we are all of us better when 
she is near us. 



i 



THE SQUIRE'S STORY. 



IN the year 1769, the little town of Barford was thrown into a 
state of great excitement by the intelligence that a gentle- 
man (and *' quite the gentleman," said the landlord of the 
" George Inn"), had been looking at Mr. Clavering's old house. 
This house was neither in the town nor in the country. It stood 
on the outskirts of Barford, on the roadside leading to Derby. 
The last occupant had been a Mr. Clavering — a Northumber- 
land gentleman of good family — who had come to live in Bar- 
ford while he was but a younger son ; but w^hen some elder 
branches of the family died, he had returned to take possession 
of the family estate. The house of which I speak was called 
the White House, from its being covered with a greyish kind of 
stucco. It had a good garden to the back, and Mr. Clavering 
had built capital stables with what were then considered the 
latest improvements. The point of good stabling was expected 
to let the house, as it was in a hunting county ; otherwise it had 
few recommendations. There were many bedrooms ; some 
entered through others, even to the number of five, leading one 
beyond the other ; several sitting-rooms of the small and poky 
kind, wainscotted round with wood, and then painted a heavy 
slate colour ; one good dining-room, and a drawing-room over 
it, both looking into the garden, with pleasant bow-windows. 

Such was the accommodation offered by the White House. 
It did not seem to be very tempting to strangers, though the 
good people of Barford rather piqued themselves on it as the 
largest house in the town, and as a house in which "towns- 
people" and "county people" had often met at Mr. Clavering's 
friendly dinners. To appreciate this circumstance of pleasant 
recollection, you should have lived some years in a little country 
town, surrounded by gentlemen's seats. You would then under- 



174 THE squire's story. 

stand how a bow or a courtesy from a member of a county 
family elevates the individuals who receive it almost as much, 
in their own eyes, as the pair of blue garters fringed with silver 
did Mr. Bickerstaff's ward. They trip lightly on air for a whole 
day afterwards. Now Mr. Clavering was gone, where could 
town and county mingle? 

I mention these things that you mny have an idea of the 
desirability of the letting of the White House in the Barfordites' 
imagination ; and to make the mixture thick and slab, you must 
add for yourselves the bustle, the mystery, and the importance 
which every little event either causes or assumes in a small town, 
and then perhaps it will be no wonder to you that twenty ragged 
little urchins accompanied the "gentleman" aforesaid to the 
door of the White House ; and that, although he was above an 
hour inspecting it, under the auspices of Mr. Jones, the agent's 
clerk, thirty more had joined themselves on to the wondering 
crowd before his exit, and awaited such crumbs of intelligence 
as they could gather before they were threatened or whipped 
out of hearing distance. Presently, out came the " gentleman " 
and the lawyer's clerk. The latter was speaking as he followed 
the former over the threshold. The gentleman was tall, well- 
dressed, handsome ; but there was a sinister cold look in his 
quick-glancing, light blue eye, which a keen observer might not 
have liked. There were no keen observers among the boys and 
ill-conditioned gaping girls. But they stood too near, incon- 
veniently close ; and the gentleman, lifting up his right hand, in 
which he carried a short riding-whip, dealt one or two sharp 
blows to the nearest, with a look of savage enjoyment on his 
face as they moved away whimpering and crying. An instant 
after, his expression of countenance had changed. 

" Here," said he, drawing out a handful of money, partly 
silver, partly copper, and throwing it into the midst of them. 
"Scramble for it! fight it out, my lads! come this afternoon, 
at three, to the 'George,' and I'll throw you out some more." 
So the boys hurrahed for him as he walked off with the agent's 
clerk. He chuckled to himself, as over a pleasant thought. 
" I'll have some fun with those lads," he said ; " I'll teach 'em 
to come prowling and prying about me. I'll tell you what I'll 
do. I'll make the money so hot in the fire-shovel that it shall 
burn their fingers. You come and see the faces and the howl- 
ing. I shall be very glad if you will dine with me at two. 



THE squire's story. 175 

and by that time I may have made i:p my miind respecting the 
house." 

Mr. Jones, the agent's clerk, agreed to come to the " George" 
at two, but somehow he had a distaste for his entertainer. Mr. 
Jones would not hke to have said, even to himself, that a man 
with a purse full of money, who kept many horses, and spoke 
familiarly of noblemen — above all, who thought of taking the 
White House — could be anything but a gentleman ; but still 
the uneasy wonder as to who this Mr. Robinson Higgins could 
be, filled the clerk's mind long after Mr. Higgins, Mr. Higgins's 
servants, and Mr. Higgins's stud had taken possession of the 
White House. 

The White House was re-stuccoed (this time of a pale yellow 
colour) and put into thorough repair by the accommodating and 
delighted landlord, while his tenant seemed inclined to spend 
any amount of money on internal decorations, which were showy 
and effective in their character, enough to make the White 
House a nine days' wonder to the good people of Barford. The 
slate-coloured paints became pink, and were picked out with 
gold ; the old-fashioned banisters were replaced by newly gilt 
ones ; but, above all, the stables were a sight to be seen. Since 
the days of the Roman emperor, never was there such provision 
made for the care, the comfort, and the health of horses. But 
every one said it was no wonder, when they were led through 
Barford, covered up to their eyes, but curving their arched and 
delicate necks, and prancing with short, high steps, in repressed 
eagerness. Only one groom came with them ; yet they required 
the care of three men. Mr. Higgins, however, preferred engag- 
ing two lads out of Barford ; and Barford highly approved of 
his preference. Not only was it kind and thoughtful to give 
employment to the lounging lads themselves, but they were 
receiving such a training in Mr. Higgins's stables as might fit 
them for Doncaster or Newmarket. The district of Derbyshire 
in which Barford was situated Vv'as too close to Leicestershire 
not to support a hunt and a pack of hounds. The master of 
the hounds was a certain Sir Harry Manley, who was aut a 
huntsman aiU nullus. He measuied a man by the "length of 
his fork," not by the expression of l:is coun.tenance, or the shape 
of his head. But, as Sir Harry was wont to observe, there was 
such a thing as too long a fork, so his approbation was with- 
held until he had seen a man on horseback ; and if his seat 



176 THE squire's story. 

there was square and easy, his hand light, and his courage 
good, Sir Harry hailed him as a brother. 

Mr. Higgins attended the first meet of the season, not as a 
subscriber, but as an amateur. The Barford huntsmen piqued 
themselves on their bold riding ; and their knowledge of the 
country came by nature ; yet this new strange man, whom 
nobody knew, was in at the death, sitting on his horse, both 
well-breathed and calm, without a hair turned on the sleek skin 
of the latter, supremely addressing the old huntsman as he 
hacked off the tail of the fox ; and he, the old man, who was 
testy even under Sir Harry's slightest rebuke, and flew out on 
any other member of the hunt that dared to utter a word 
against his sixty years' experience as stable-boy, groom, poacher, 
and what not — he, old Isaac Wormeley, was meekly listening 
to the wisdom of this stranger, only now and then giving one 
of his quick, up-turning, cunning glances, not unlike the sharp, 
o'er-canny looks of the poor deceased Reynard, round whom the 
hounds were howhng, unadmonished by the short whip which 
was now tucked into Wormeley's well-worn pocket. When 
Sir Harry rode into the copse — full of dead brushwood and wet 
tangled grass — and was followed by the members of the hunt, 
as one by one they cantered past, Mr. Higgins took off his cap 
and bowed — half-deferentially, half-insolently — with a lurking 
smile in the corner of his eye at the discomfited looks of one 
or two of the laggards. " A famous run, sir," said Sir Harry. 
" The first time you have hunted in our country, but I hope 
we shall see you often." 

" I hope to become a member of the hunt, sir," said Mr. 
Higgins. 

" Most happy — proud, I am sure, to receive so daring a rider 
among us. You took the Cropper-gate, I fancy, while some of 
our friends here " — scowling at one or two cowards by way of 
finishing his speech. "Allow me to introduce myself — master 
of the hounds." He fumbled in his waistcoat pocket for the 
card on which his name was formally inscribed. " Some of our 
friends here are kind enough to come home with me to dinner ; 
might I ask for the honour?" 

"My name is Higgins," replied the stranger, bowing low. 
" I am only lately come to occupy the White House at 
Barford, and I have not as yet presented my letters of intro- 
duction." 



THE SQUIRE'S STORY. 1 77 

" Hang it !" replied Sir Harry ; " a man with a seat like 
yours, and that good brush in your hand, might ride up to 
any door in the county (I'm a Leicestershire man !), and be a 
welcome guest. Mr. Higgins, I shall be proud to become 
better acquainted with you over my dinner-table." 

Mr. Higgins knew pretty well how to improve the acquaint- 
ance thus begun. He could sing a good song, tell a good 
story, and was well up in practical jokes ; with plenty of that 
keen, worldly sense, which seems hke an instinct in some men, 
and which in this case taught him on whom he might play off 
such jokes, with impunity from their resentment, and with 
a security of applause from the more boisterous, vehement, 
or prosperous. At the end of twelve months Mr. Robinson 
Higgins was, out-and-out, the most popular member of the 
Barford hunt ; had beaten all the others by a couple of lengths, 
as his first patron, Sir Harry, observed one evening, when they 
were just leaving the dinner-table of an old hunting squire in 
the neighbourhood. 

" Because, you know," said Squire Hearn, holding Sir Harry 
by the button — " I mean, you see, this young spark is looking 
sweet upon Catherine ; and she's a good girl, and will have 
ten thousand pounds down, the day she's married, by her 
mother's will ; and, excuse me. Sir Harry, but I should not like 
my girl to throw herself away." 

Though Sir Harry had a long ride before him, and but the 
early and short light of a new moon to take it in, his kind 
heart was so much touched by Squire Hearn's trembling, tearful 
anxiety, that he stopped and turned back into the dining-room 
to say, with more asseverations than I care to give — 

" My good squire, I may say, I know that man pretty well 
by this time ; and a better fellow never existed. If I had 
twenty daughters he should have the pick of them." 

Squire Hearn never thought of asking the grounds for his 
old friend's opinion of Mr. Higgins ; it had been given with 
too much earnestness for any doubts to cross the old man's 
mind as to the possibility of its not being well founded. Mr. 
Hearn was not a doubter, or a thinker, or suspicious by nature ; 
it was simply his love for Catherine, his only child, that 
prompted his anxiety in this case ; and, after what Sir Harry 
had said, the old man could totter with an easy mind, though 
not with very steady legs, into the drawing-room, where his 



I/O THE squire's STORY. 

bonny, blushing daughter Catherine and Mr. Higgins stood 
close together on the hearth-rug ; he whispering, she listening 
with downcast eyes. She looked so happy, so like her dead 
mother had looked when the squire was a young man, that all 
his thought was how to please her most. His son and heir 
was about to be married, and bring his w^fe to live with the 
squire ; Barford and the White House were not distant an 
hour's ride ; and, even as these thoughts passed through his 
mind, he asked Mr. Higgins if he could not stay all night — the 
young moon was already set — the roads would be dark — and 
Catherine looked up with a pretty anxiety, which, however, had 
not much doubt in it, for the answer. 

With every encouragement of this kind from the old squire, it 
took everybody rather by surprise when, one morning, it was 
discovered that Miss Catherine Hcarn w'as missing ; and when, 
according to the usual fashion in such cases, a note was found, 
saying that she had eloped with "the man of her heart," and 
gone to Gretna Green, no one could imagine why she could not 
quietly have stopped at home and been married in the parisli 
church. She had always been a romantic, sentimental girl ; 
very pretty and very affectionate, and very much spoilt, and 
very much wanting in common sense. Her indulgent father 
was deeply hurt at this want of confidence in his never-varying 
affection ; but when his son came, hot with indignation, from 
the baronet's (his future father-in-law's house, where every form 
of law and of ceremony was to accompany his own impending 
marriage], Squire Hearn pleaded the cause of the young couple 
with imploring cogency, and protested that it was a piece of 
spirit in his daughter, which he admired and was proud of. 
However, it ended with Mr. Nathaniel Hearn's declaring that 
he and his wife would have nothing to do with his sister and her 
husband. "Wait till you've seen him, Natl" said the old 
squire, trembling with his distressful anticipations of family dis- 
cord. "He's an excuse for any girl. Only ask Sir Harry's 
opinion of him." — " Confound Sir Harry ! So that a man sits 
his horse well Sir Harry cares nothing about anything else. 
Who is this man — this fellow ! Where does he come from } 
What are his means? Who are his family?" 

" He comes from the South — Surrey or Somersetsliire, I forget 
which ; and he pays his way well and liberally. There's not a 
tradesman in Barford but says he cares no more for m.oney than 



THE squire's story. 1 79 

for v>'ater ; he spends like a prince, Nat. I don't know who his 
family are ; but he seals with a coat of arms, which may tell you 
if you want to know ; and he goes regularly to collect his rents 
from his estates in the South. Oh, Nat ! if you would but be 
friendly, I should be as well pleased with Kitty's marriage as any 
father in the county." 

Mr. Nathaniel Plearn gloomed and muttered an oath or two 
to himself. The poor old father was reaping the consequences 
of his weak indulgence to his two children. Mr. and Mrs.. 
Nathaniel Hearn kept apart from Catherine and her husband ; 
and Squire Hearn durst never ask them to Levison Hall, 
though it was his own house. Indeed, he stole away as if he 
were a culprit whenever he went to visit the White House ; and 
if he passed a night there he was fain to equivocate when he 
returned home the next day ; an equivocation which was well 
interpreted by the surly, proud Nathaniel. But the younger 
Mr. and Mrs. Hearn were the only people who did not visit at 
the White House. Mr. and Mrs. Higgins were decidedly more 
popular than their brother and sister-in-law. She made a very 
pretty, sweet-tempered hostess, and her education had not been 
such as to make her intolerant of any want of refinement in the 
associates who gathered round her husband. She had gentle 
smiles for townspeople as well as county people, and uncon- 
sciously played an admirable second in her husband's project of 
making himself universally popular. 

But there is some one to make ill-natured remarks, and draw 
ill-natured conclusions from very simple premises, in every place; 
and in Barford this bird of ill-omen was a Adiss Pratt. She 
did not hunt — so Mr. Fliggins's admirable riding did not call 
out her admiration. She did not drink — so the v/ell-selected 
wines, so lavishly dispensed among his guests, could never 
mollify Miss Pratt. She could not bear comic songs, or buffo 
stories — so, in that way, her approbation was impregnable. 
And these three secrets of popularit}^ constituted Mr. Higgins's 
great charm. Miss Pratt sat and watched. Her face looked 
immovably grave at the end of any of Mr. Higgins's best 
stories ; but there was a keen, needle-like glance of her unwink- 
ing little eyes, which Mr. Higgins felt rather than sav/, and 
which made him shiver, even on a hot day, when it fell upon 
him. Miss Pratt was a Dissenter, and to propitiate this female 
Mordecai, Mr. Higgins asked the Dissenting minister whose 



l8o THE squire's story. 

services she attended to dinner ; kept himself and his company 
in good order ; gave a handsome donation to the poor of the 
chapel. All in vain — Miss Pratt stirred not a muscle more of 
her face towards graciousness ; and Mr. Higgins was conscious 
that, in spite of all his open efforts to captivate Mr. Davis, 
there was a secret influence on the other side, throwing in 
doubts and suspicions, and evil interpretations of all he said 
or did. Miss Pratt, the little, plain old maid, living on eighty- 
pounds a year, was the thorn in the popular Mr. Higgins's 
side, although she had never spoken one uncivil word to him ; 
indeed, on the contrary, had treated him with a stiff and 
-elaborate civility. 

The thorn — the grief to Mrs. Higgins was this. They had 
no children ! Oh ! how she would stand and envy the careless, 
busy motion of half-a-dozen children, and then, when observed, 
move on with a deep, deep sigh of yearning regret. But it was 
as well. 

It was noticed that Mr. Higgins was remarkably careful of 
his health. He ate, drank, took exercise, rested by some secret 
rules of his own ; occasionally bursting into an excess, it is 
true, but only on rare occasions — such as when he returned 
from visiting his estates in the South, and collecting his rents. 
That unusual exertion and fatigue— for there were no stage 
coaches within forty miles of Barford, and he, like most country 
gentlemen of that day, would have preferred riding if there had 
been — seemed to require some strange excess to compensate for 
it ; and rumours went through the town that he shut himself up, 
and drank enormously for some days after his return. But no 
one was admitted to these orgies. 

One day — they remembered it well afterwards — the hounds 
met not far from the town ; and the fox was found in a part of 
the wild heath, which was beginning to be enclosed by a few of 
the more wealthy townspeople, who were desirous of building 
themselves houses rather more in the country than those they 
had hitherto lived in. Among these, the principal was a Mr. 
Dudgeon, the attorney of Barford, and the agent for all the 
county families about. The firm of Dudgeon had managed the 
leases, the marriage settlements, and the wills of the neighbour- 
hood for generations. Mr. Dudgeon's father had the responsi- 
bility of collecting the landowners' rents just as the present Mr. 
Dudgeon had at the time of which I speak ; and as his son and 



THE squire's story. i8i 

his son's son have done since. Their business was an hereditary- 
estate to them ; and with something of the old feudal feeling was 
mixed a kind of proud humility at their position towards 
the squires whose family secrets they had mastered, and the 
mysteries of whose fortunes and estates were better known to 
the Messrs. Dudgeon than to themselves. 

Mr. John Dudgeon had built himself a house on Wildbury 
Heath — a mere cottage, as he called it ; but though only two 
storeys high it spread out far and wide, and work-people from 
Derby had been sent for on purpose to make the inside as com- 
plete as possible. The gardens, too, were exquisite in arrange- 
ment, if not very extensive ; and not a flower was grown in them 
but of the rarest species. It must have been somewhat of a 
mortification to the owner of this dainty place when, on the day 
of which I speak, the fox, after a long race, during which he 
had described a circle of many miles, took refuge in the garden ; 
but Mr. Dudgeon put a good face on the matter when a gentle- 
man hunter, with the careless insolence of the squires of those 
days and that place, rode across the velvet lawn, and tapping at 
the window of the dining-room with his whip-handle, asked 
permission — no, that is not it ! — rather, informed Mr. Dudgeon 
of their intention — to enter his garden in a body and have the 
fox unearthed. Mr. Dudgeon compelled himself to smile assent,, 
with the grace of a masculine Griselda ; and then he hastily gave 
orders to have all that the house afforded of provision set out for 
luncheon, guessing rightly enough that a six hours* run would 
give even homely fare an acceptable welcome. He bore without 
wincing the entrance of the dirty boots into his exquisitely clean 
rooms ; he only felt grateful for the care with which Mr. Higgins 
strode about, laboriously and noiselessly moving on the tip of 
his toes, as he reconnoitered the rooms with a curious eye. 

" I'm going to build a house myself, Dudgeon ; and, upon my 
word, I don't think I could take a better model than yours." 

" Oh ! my poor cottage would be too small to afford any hints 
for such a house as you would wish to build, Mr. Higgins," 
replied Mr. Dudgeon, gently rubbing his hands nevertheless at 
the compliment. 

*' Not at all ! not at all ! Let me see. You have dining-room, 
drawing-room " — he hesitated, and Mr. Dudgeon filled up the 
blank, as he expected. 

" Four sitting-rooms and the bedrooms. But allow me to 



1 82 THE squire's STORY. 

sliow you over the house. I confess I took some pains in 
arranging- it, and, though far smaller than what you would 
require, it may, nevertheless, afford you some hints." 

So they left the eating gentlemen with their mouths and their 
plates quite full, and the scent of the fox overpowering that of 
tlie hasty rashers of ham, and they carefully inspected all the 
ground-floor rooms. Then Mr. Dudgeon said — 

" If you are not tired, Mr. Higgins — it is rather my hobby, so 
you must pull me up if you are— we will go upstairs, and I will 
show you my sanctum." 

Mr. Dudgeon's sanctum was the centre room over the porch, 
which formed a balcony, and which was carefully filled with 
choice flowers in pots. Inside there were all kinds of elegant 
contrivances for hiding the real strength of all the boxes and 
chests required by the particular nature of Mr. Dudgeon's 
business ; for although his office was in Barford, he kept (as 
he informed Mr. Higgins) what was the most valuable here, as 
being safer than an office which was locked up and left every 
night. But, as Mr. Higgins reminded him with a sly poke in 
the side, when next theymet, his own house was not over secure. 
A fortnight after the gentlemen of the Barford hunt lunched 
there, Mr. Dudgeon's strong box — in his sanctum upstairs, with 
the mysterious spring-bolt to the window invented by himself, 
find the secret of which was only known to the inventor and a 
few of his most intimate friends, to whom he had proudly shown 
it — this strong box, containing the collected Christmas rents of 
half-a-dozen landlords (there was then no bank nearer than 
Derby), was rifled, and the secretly rich Mr. Dudgeon had to 
stop his agent in his purchases of paintings by Flemish artists 
because the money was required to make good the missing rents. 

The Dogberries and Verges of those days were quite in- 
capable of obtaining any clue to the robber or robbers ; and 
though one or two vagrants were taken up and brought before 
Mr. Dunover and Mr. Higgins, the magistrates who usually 
attended in the court-room at Barford, there was no evidence 
brought against them, and after a couple of nights* durance in 
the lock-up.^ they were set at liberty. But it became a standing 
joke with Mr. Higgins to ask Mr. Dudgeon, from time to time, 
whether he could recommend him a place of safety for his 
valuables, or if he had made any more inventions lately for 
securing houses from robbers. 



r 



THE squire's story. 1 83 

A!)out two years after this time — about seven years after Mr. 
Higgins hnd been married — one Tuesday evening, Mr. Davis 
was sitting reading the news in the coffee-room of the " George 
Inn." He belonged to a club of gentlemen who met there 
occasionally to play at whist, to read what few newspapers and 
magazines were published in those days, to chat about the 
market at Derby, and prices all over the country. This Tuesday 
night it was a black frost, and few people were in the room. 
Mr. Davis was anxious to finish an article in the Gentleman s 
Magazine ; indeed, he was making extracts from it, intending 
to answer it, and yet unable with his small income to purchase a 
copy. So he stayed late ; it was past nine, and at ten o'clock 
the room was closed. But while he wrote, Mr. Higgins came 
in. He was pale and haggard with cold. Mr. Davis, who had 
had for some time sole possession of the fire, moved politely on 
one side, and handed to the new-comer the sole London news- 
paper which the room afforded. I\Ir. Higgins accepted it, and 
made some remark on the intense coldness of the weather ; but 
Mr. Davis was too full of his article and intended reply to fall 
into conversation readily. Mr. Higgins hitched his chair nearer 
to the fire, and put his feet on the fender, giving an audible 
shudder. He put the newspaper on one end of the table near 
him and sat gazing into the red embers of the fire, crouching 
down over them as if his very marrow were chilled. At length 
he said — 

"There is no account of the murder at Bath in that paper?" 
Mr. Davis, who had finished taking his notes, and was preparing 
to go, stopped short, and asked — 

" Has there been a murder at Bath ? No ! I have not seen 
anything of it — who was murdered?" 

" Oh ! it was a shocking, terrible murder ! " said IMr. Higgins, 
not raising his look from the fire, but gazing on with his eyes 
dilated till the whites were seen all round them. " A terrible, 
terrible murder ! I wonder what will become of the murderer ? 
I can fancy the red glowing centre of that fire — look and see 
how infinitely distant it seems, and how the distance magnifies 
it into something awful and unquenchable." 

" My dear sir, you are feverish : how you shake and shiver ! " 
said Mr. Davis, thinking, privately, that his companion had 
symptoms of fever, and that he was wandering in his mind. 

"Oh, no !" said Mr. Higgins. "I am not feverish. It is 



1 84 THE squire's story. 

the night which is so cold." And for a time he talked with Mr. 
Davis about the article in the Gentleman' s Magazine, for he 
was rather a reader himself, and could take more interest in Mr. 
Davis's pursuits than most of the people at Barford. At length 
it drew near to ten, and Mr. Davis rose up to go home to his 
lodgings. 

*'No, Davis, don't go. I want you here. We will have a 
bottle of port together, and that will put Saunders into good 
humour. I want to tell you about this murder," he continued, 
dropping his voice, and speaking hoarse and low. "She was 
an old woman, and he killed her, sitting reading her Bible by 
her own fireside?" He looked at Mr. Davis with a strange, 
searching gaze, as if trying to find some sympathy in the horror 
which the idea presented to him. 

"Whom do you mean, my dear sir? What is this murder 
you are so full of? No one has been murdered here." 

" No, you fool ! I tell you it was in Bath ! " said Mr. Higgins 
with sudden passion ; and then, calming himself to most velvet- 
smoothness of manner, he laid his hand on Mr. Davis's knee, 
there, as they sat by the fire, and gently detaining him, began 
the narration of the crime he was so full of; but his voice and 
manner were constrained to a stony quietude : he never looked 
in Mr. Davis's face ; once or twice, as Mr. Davis remembered 
afterwards, his grip tightened like a compressing vice. 

"She lived in a small house in a quiet, old-fashioned street, 
she and her maid. People said she was a good old woman ; 
but, for all that, she hoarded and hoarded, and never gave to 
the poor. Mr. Davis, it is wicked not to give to the poor — 
wicked — wicked, is it not? I always give to the poor, for once 
I read in the Bible that ' Charity covereth a multitude of sins.' 
The wicked old woman never gave, but hoarded her money, 
and saved and saved. Some one heard of it ; I say she threw 
a temptation in his way, and God will punish her for it. And 
this man — or it might be a woman, who knows — and this 
person heard also that she went to church in the mornings and 
her maid in the afternoons ; and so, while the maid was at 
church, and the street and the house quite still, and the dark- 
ness of a winter afternoon coming on, she was nodding over 
her Bible — and that, mark you ! is a sin, and one that God will 
avenge sooner or later — and a step came, in the dusk, up the 
stair, and that person I told you of stood in the room. At 



THE squire's story. 18$ 

first, he— no ! At first, it is supposed — for, you understand, 
all this is mere guess-work — it is supposed that he asked her 
civilly enough to give him her money, or to tell him where it was ; 
but the old miser defied him, and would not ask for mercy and 
give up her keys, even when he threatened her, but looked him 
in the face as if he had been a baby. Oh, God ! Mr. Davis, I 
once dreamt, when I was a little, innocent boy, that I should 
commit a crime like this, and I wakened up crying ; and my 
mother comforted me — that is the reason I tremble so now — 
that and the cold, for it is very, very cold ! " 

"But did he murder the old lady?" asked Mr. Davis; "I 
beg your pardon, sir, but I am interested by your story." 

" Yes, he cut her throat ; and there she hes yet, in her quiet 
little parlour, with her face upturned and all ghastly white, in 
the middle of a pool of blood. Mr. Davis, this wine is no 
better than water ; I must have some brandy." 

Mr. Davis was horror-struck by the story, which seemed to 
have fascinated him as much as it had done his companion. 

" Have they got any clue to the murderer?" said he. Mr. 
Higgins drank down half a tumbler of raw brandy before he 
answered. 

" No ; no clue whatever. They will never be able to discover 
him ; and I should not wonder, Mr. Davis — I should not wonder 
if he repented after all, and did bitter penance for his crime ; 
and if so — will there be mercy for him at the last day? " 

"God knows!" said Mr. Davis, with solemnity. " It is an 
awful story," continued he, rousing himself; "I hardly like to 
leave this warm, light room and go out into the darkness after 
hearing it. But it must be done" — buttoning on his great- 
coat — "I can only say I hope and trust they will find out the 
murderer and hang him. If you'll take my advice, Mr. 
Higgins, you'll have your bed warmed and drink a treacle 
posset just the last thing ; and, if you'll allow me, I'll send 
you my answer to Philologus before it goes up to old Urban." 

The next morning Mr. Davis went to call on Miss Pratt, who 
was not very well, and, by way of being agreeable and enter- 
taining, he related to her all he had heard the night before about 
the murder at Bath ; and really he made a very pretty con- 
nected story out of it, and interested Miss Pratt very much in 
the fate of the old lady — partly because of a similarity in their 
situations ; for she also privately hoarded money, and had but 



1 86 THE squire's story. 

one servant, and stopped at home alone on Sunday afternoons 
to allow her servant to go to church. 

"And when did all this happen?" she asked. 

"I don't know if Mr. Higgins named the day; and yet I 
think it must have been on this very last Sunday." 

"And to-day is Wednesday. Ill news travels fast." 

"Yes, Mr. Higgins thought it might have been in the London 
newspaper." 

"That it could never be. Where did Mr. Pliggins learn all 
abjut it?" 

" I don't know ; I did not ask. I think he only came home 
yesterday : he had been south to collect his rents, somebody 
said." 

Miss Pratt grunted. She used to vent her disUke and sus- 
picions of Mr. Higgins in a grunt whenever his name was men- 
tioned. 

"Well, I shan't see you for some days. Godfrey Merton 
asked me to go and stay with him and his sister ; and I think it 
will do me good. Besides," added she, "these winter evenings 
— and these murderers at large in the country — I don't quite 
like living with only Peggy to call to in case of need." 

Miss Pratt went to stay with lier cousin, Mr. Merton. He 
was an active magistrate, and enjoyed his reputation as such. 
One day he came in, having just received his letters. 

" Bad account of the morals of your little town here, Jessy ! " 
said he, touching one of his letters. " You've either a murderer 
among you, or some friend of a murderer. Here's a poor old 
kidy at Bath had her throat cut last Sunday week ; and I've 
a letter from the Home Office, asking to lend them ' my very 
efficient aid,' as they are pleased to call it, tov^'ards finding out 
the culprit. It seems he must have been thirsty, and of a 
comfortable jolly turn; for before going to his horrid work he 
t;ipped a barrel of ginger wine the old lady had set by to 
work ; and he wrapped the spigot round with a piece of a 
letter taken out of his pocket, as may be supposed : and this 
piece of a letter was found afterwards ; there are only these 
letters on the outside, ' ns, Esq., -arford, -egwo?'th,' which some 
one has ingeniously made out to mean Barfcrd, near Kegworth. 
On the other side, there is some allusion to a racehorse, I con- 
jecture, though the name is singular enough — ' Church-and- 
King-and-down-with-the-Rump.' " 



THE squire's story. 1 8/ 

Miss Pratt caught at this name immediately. It had hurt 
her feehngs as a Dissenter only a few months ago, and she 
remembered it well. 

" Mr. Nat Hearn has, or had (as I am speaking in the witness- 
box, as it were, I must take care of my tenses), a horse with 
that ridiculous name." 

"Mr. Nat Hearn," repeated Mr. Merton, making a note of 
the intelligence ; then he recurred to his letter from the Home 
Office again. 

"There" is also a piece of a small key, broken in the futile 
attempt to open a desk — well, well. Nothing more of con- 
sequence. The letter is what we must rely upon." 

"Mr. Davis said that Mr. Higgins told him" — Miss Pratt 
began. 

" Tliggins ! " exclaimed Mr. Merton, '' ns. Is it Higgins, 
trie blustering fellow that ran away with Nat Hearn's sister?" 

"Yes!" said Miss Pratt. "But though he has never been 
a favourite of mine "- 

" nsT repeated Mr. Merton. " It is too horrible to think of ; 
a member of the hunt — kind old Squire Hearn's son-in-law ! 
Who else have you in Barford with names that end in nsf 

"There's Jackson, and Higginson, and Blenkinsop, and 
Davis, and Jones. Cousin ! one thing strikes me — how did 
Mr. Higgins know all about it to tell Mr. Davis on Tuesday 
vv'hat had happened on Sunday afternoon ?" 

There is no need to add much more. Those curious in lives 
of the highwaymen may find the name of Higgins as conspicuous 
among those annals as that of Claude Duval. Kate Hearn's 
husband collected his rents on the highway like many another 
"gentleman" of the day ; but, having been unlucky in one or 
two of his adventures, and heariiig exaggerated accounts of the 
hoarded wealth of the old lady at Bath, he was led on from 
robbery to murder, and was hung for his crime at Derby, i:i 

1775. ^ 

He had not been an unkind husband, and his poor wife toc;k 
lodgings in Derby to be near him in his last moments — his 
awful last moments. Her old father went with her everywhere 
but into her husband's cell, and wrung her heart by constantly 
accusing himself of having promoted her marriage with a man 
of whom he knew so little. He abdicated bis squircship in 
favour of his son Nathaniel. Nat was prosperous, and the 



i88 THE squire's story. 

helpless, silly father could be of no use to him ; but to his 
widowed daughter the foolish, fond old man was all in all — 
her knight, her protector, her companion, her most faithful, 
loving companion. Only he ever declined assuming the office 
of her counsellor, shaking his head sadly, and saying — 

"Ah! Kate, Kate! if I had had more wisdom to have 
advised thee better, thou need'st not have been an exile here 
in Brussels, shrinking from the sight of every English person 
as if they knew thy story." 

I saw the White House not a month ago ; it was to let ; 
perhaps for the twentieth time since Mr. Higgins occupied it ; 
but still the tradition goes in Barford that, once upon a time, 
a highwayman lived there, and amassed untold treasures, and 
that the ill-gotten wealth yet remains walled up in some un- 
known, concealed chamber, but in what part of the house no 
one knows. 

Will any of you become tenants, and try to find out this 
mysterious closet? I can furnish the exact address to any 
applicant who wishes for it. 



CURIOUS IF TRUE. 

(Extract from a Letter from Richard 
Whittingham, Esq.) 



You were formerly so inuch amused at my pride in my 
descent from that sister of Calvin's who married a 
Whittingham, Dean of Durham, that I doubt if you will be 
able to enter into the regard for my distinguished relation that 
has led me to France, in order to examine registers and archives, 
which I thought might enable me to discover collateral descend- 
ants of the great Reformer, with whom I might call cousins. 
I shall not tell you of my troubles and adventures in this 
research ; you are not worthy to hear of them ; but something 
so curious befell me one evening last August, that if I had not 
been perfectly certain I was wide awake, I might have taken it 
for a dream. 

For the purpose I have named, it was necessary that I should 
make Tours my headquarters for a time. I had traced descend- 
ants of the Calvin family out of Normandy into the centre of 
France ; but I found it was necessary to have a kind of per- 
mission from the bishop of the diocese before I could see certain 
family papers, which had fallen into the possession of the 
Church ; and, as I had several English friends at Tours, I 

awaited the answer to my request to Monseigneur de , at 

that town. I was ready to accept any invitation ; but I received 
very few, and was sometimes a little at a loss what to do with 
my evenings. The tahle-d'hote was at five o'clock ; I did not 
wish to go to the expense of a private sitting-room, disliked the 
dinnery atmosphere of the salle a manger, could not play either 
at pool or billiards, and the aspect of my fellow-guests was 
unprepossessing enough to make me unwilling to enter into any 



190 CURIOUS IF TRUE. 

tete-a-tete gamblings with tliem. So I usually rose from table 
early, and tried to make the most of the remaining light of the 
August evenings in walking briskly off to explore the surround- 
ing country ; the middle of the day was too hot for this purpose, 
and better employed in lounging on a bench in the Boulevards, 
lazily hstening to the distant band, and noticing with equal 
laziness the faces and figures of the women who passed by. 

One Thursday evening— the i8th of August it was, I think — 
I had gone further than usual in my walk, and I found that it 
was later than I had imagined when I paused to turn back. I 
fancied I could make a round ; I had enough notion of the 
direction in which I was, to see that by turning up a narrow 
straight lane to my left I should shorten my way back to Tours. 
And so I believe I should have done, could I have found an 
outlet at the right place, but field-paths are almost unknown in 
that part of France, and my lane, stiff and straight as any 
street, and marked into terribly vanishing perspective by the 
regular row of poplars on each side, seemed interminable. 
Of course night came on, and I was in darkness. In England 
I might have had a chance of seeing a light in some cottage 
only a field or two off, and asking my way from the inhabitants ; 
but here I could see no such welcome sight ; indeed, I believe 
French peasants go to bed with the summer daylight, so if there 
were any habitations in the neiglibourhood I never saw them. 
At last — I believe I must have walked two hours in the darkness 
— I saw the dusky outline of a wood on one side of the weariful 
lane, and impatiently careless of all forest laws and penalties for 
trespassers, I made my way to it, thinking that, if the worst 
came to the worst, I could find some covert — some shelter where 
I could lie down and rest, until the morning light gave me a 
chance of finding my way back to Tours. But the plantation, 
on the outskirts of what appeared to me a dense wood, was of 
young trees, too closely planted to be more than slender stems 
growing up to a good height, with scanty foliage on their 
summits. On I went towards the thicker forest, and once there 
I slackened my pace, and began to look about me for a good 
lair. I was as dainty as Lochiel's grandchild, who made his 
grandsire indignant at the luxury of his pillow of snow : this 
brake was too full of brambles, that felt damp with dew ; there 
was no hurry, since I had given up all hope of passing the night 
between four walls ; and I went leisurely groping about, and 



CURIOUS IF TRUE. IQI 

trusting that there were no wolves to be poked up out of their 
summer drowsiness by my stick, when all at once I saw a 
cliateau before me, not a quarter of a mile off, at the end of 
what seemed to be an ancient avenue (now over-grown and 
irregular), which I happened to be crossing, when 1 looked to 
my right, and saw the welcome sight. Large, stately, and dark 
was its outline against the dusky night-sky ; there were pepper- 
boxes and tourelles and what-not fantastically growing up into 
the dim starlight. And, more to the purpose still, though I 
could not see the details of the building that I was now facing, 
it was plain enough that there were lights in many windows, as 
if some great entertainment was going on. 

"They are hospitable people, at any rate," thought I. 
"Perhaps they will give me a bed. I don't suppose French 
froprUtaires have traps and horses quite as plentiful as English 
gentlemen ; but they are evidently having a large party, and 
some of their guests may be from Tours, and will give mc a 
cast back to the ' Lion d'Or.' I am not proud and I am cK g- 
tired. I am not above hanging on behind, if need be." 

So, putting a little briskness and spirit into my walk, I went 
up to the door, which was standing open, most hospitably, and 
showing a large lighted hall, all hung round with spoils of the 
chase, armour, &c., the details of which I had not time to notice, 
for the instant I stood on the threshold a huge porter appeared, 
in a strange, old-fashioned dress— a kind of livery which well be- 
fitted the general appearance of the house. He asked me, in 
French (so curiously pronounced that I thought I had hit upon a 
new kind oi patois), my name, and whence I came. I thought 
he would not be much the wiser, still it was but civil to give it 
before I made my request for assistance ; so, in reply, I said — 

"My name is Whittingham — Richard Whittingham, an Eng- 
lish gentleman, staying at ." To my infinite surprise, a 

light of pleased intelligence came over the giant's face ; he 
made me a low bow, and said (still in the same curious dialect) 
that I was welcome, that I was long expected. 

"Long expected!" What could the fellow mean? Had I 
stumbled on a nest of relations by John Calvin's side, who had 
heard of my genealogical inquiries, and were gratified and 
interested by them ? But I was too much pleased to be under 
shelter for the night to think it necessary to account for my 
agreeable reception before I enjoyed it. Just as he was opening 



192 CURIOUS IF TRUE. 

the great heavy hattants of the door that led from the hall to 
the interior, he turned round and said — 

' ' Apparently Monsieur le G6anquilleur is not come with you ? " 

"No! I am all alone. I have lost my way" — and I was 
going on with my explanation, when he, as if quite indifferent 
to it, led the way up a great stone staircase, as wide as many 
rooms, and having on each landing-place massive iron wickets 
in a heavy framework ; these the porter unlocked with the 
solemn slowness of age. Indeed, a strange, mysterious awe of 
the centuries that had passed away since this chateau was built, 
came over me as I waited for the turning of the ponderous keys 
in the ancient locks. I could almost have fancied that I heard 
a mighty rushing murmur (like the ceaseless sound of a distant 
sea, ebbing and flowing for ever and for ever), coming forth 
from the great vacant galleries that opened out on each side of 
the broad staircase, and were to be dimly perceived in the 
darkness above us. It was as if the voices of generations of 
men yet echoed and eddied in the silent air. It was strange, 
too, that my friend the porter going before me, ponderously 
infirm, with his feeble old hands striving in vain to keep the tall 
flambeau he held steadily before him — strange, I say, that he 
was the only domestic I saw in the vast halls and passages, or 
met with on the grand staircase. At length we stood before the 
gilded doors that led into the saloon where the family — or.it 
might be the company, so great was the buzz of voices — was 
assembled. I would have remonstrated when I found he was 
going to introduce me, dusty and travel-smeared, in a morning 
costume that was not even my best, into this grand salon, with 
nobody knew how many ladies and gentlemen assembled ; but 
the obstinate old man was evidently bent upon taking me 
straight to his master, and paid no heed to my words. 

The doors flew open, and I was ushered into a saloon 
curiously full of pale light, which did not culminate on any 
spot, nor proceed from any centre, nor flicker with any motion 
of the air, but filled every nook and corner, making all things 
deliciously distinct ; different from our light of gas or candle, as 
is the difference between a clear southern atmosphere and that 
of our misty England. 

At the first moment, my arrival excited no attention, the 
apartment was so full of people, all intent on their own con- 
versation. But my friend the porter went up to a handsome 



CURIOUS IF TRUE. I93 

lady of middle age, richly attired in that antique manner which 
fashion has brought round again of late years, and, waiting 
first in an attitude of deep respect till her attention fell upon 
him, told her my name and something about me, as far as I 
could guess from the gestures of the one and the sudden glance 
of the eye of the other. 

She immediately came towards me with the most friendly 
actions of g;reeting, even before she had advanced near enough 
to speak. Then — and was it not strange? — her words and 
accent were those of the commonest peasant of the country. 
Yet she herself looked high-bred, and would have been digni- 
fied had she been a shade less restless, had her countenance 
»vorn a little less lively and inquisitive expression. I had been 
poking a good deal about the old parts of Tours, and had had 
to understand the dialect of the people who dwelt in the Marchd 
au Vendredi and similar places, or I really should not have 
understood my handsome hostess as she offered to present me 
io her husband, a henpecked, gentlemanly man, who was more 
quaintly attired than she in the very extreme of that style of 
dress. I thought to myself that in France, as in England, it is 
the provincials who carry fashion to such an excess as to 
become ridiculous. 

However, he spoke (still in the patois) of his pleasure in 
making my acquaintance, and led me to a strange uneasy easy- 
chair, much of a piece with the rest of the furniture, which 
might have taken its place without any anachronism by the side 
of that in the Hotel Cluny. Then again began the clatter of 
French voices, which my arrival had for an instant interrupted, 
and I had leisure to look about me. Opposite to me sat a very 
sweet-looking lady, who must have been a great beauty in her 
youth, I should think, and would be charming in old age, from 
the sweetness of her countenance. She was, however, extremely 
fat, and, on seeing her feet laid up before her on a cushion, I at 
once perceived that they were so swollen as to render her in- 
capable of walking, which probably brought on her excessiv-e 
embonpoint. Her hands were plump and small, but rather 
coarse-grained in texture, not quite so clean as they might have 
been, and altogether not so aristocratic-looking as the charming 
face. Her dress was of superb black velvet, ermine-trimmed, 
with diamonds thrown all abroad over it. 

Not far from her stood the least little man I had ever seen, 

G 



194 CURIOUS IF TRUE. 

of such admirable proportions no one could call him a dwarf, 
because with that word we usually associate something of 
deformity ; but yet with an elfin look of shrewd, hard, worldly 
wisdom in his face that marred the impression which his 
delicate regular little features would otherwise have conveyed. 
Indeed, I do not think he was quite of equal rank with the rest 
of the company, for his dress was inappropriate to the occasion 
(and he apparently was an invited, while I was an involuntary 
guest;) and one or two of his gestures and actions were more 
like the tricks of an uneducated rustic than anything else. To 
explain what I mean : his boots had evidently seen much 
service, and had been re-topped, re-heeled, re-so'ed to the 
extent of cobbler's powers. Why should he have come in them 
if they were not his best — liis only pair? And what can be 
more ungenteel than poverty ! Then, again, he had an uneasy 
trick of putting his hand up to his throat, as if he expected to 
find something the matter with it ; and he had the awkward 
habit — which I do not think he could have copied from Dr. 
Johnson, because most probably he had never heard of him — 
of trying always to retrace his steps on the exact boards on 
v/hich he had trodden to arrive at any particular pnrt of the 
room. Besides, to settle the question, I once heard him 
n.ddressed as Monsieur Poucet, without any aristocratic " de " 
for a prefix ; and nearly every one else in the room was a 
marquis, at any rate. 

I say "nearly every one," for some strange people had the 
enii'ie ; unless, indeed, they were, like me, benighted. One of 
the guests I should have taken for a servant, but for the extra- 
ordinary influence he seemed to have over the man I took for 
his master, and who never did anything without, apparently, 
being urged thereto by this follower. The master, magnifi- 
cently dressed, but ill at ease in his clothes, as if they had 
been made for some one else, was a weak-looking, handsome 
man, continually sauntering about, and, I almost guessed, an 
object of suspicion to some of the gentlemen present, which, 
perhaps, drove him on the companionship of his follower, 
who was dressed something in the style of an ambassador's 
chasseur ; yet it w^as not a chasseur's dress after all ; it was 
something more thoroughly old-world ; boots half-way up his 
ridiculously small legs, which clattered as he walked along, as 
if they were too large for his little feet ; and a great quantity 



• CURIOUS IF TRUE. . I95 

of grey fur, as trimming to coat, court-mantle, boots, cap — 
everything. You know the way in which certain countenances 
remind you perpetually of some animal, be it bird or beast ! 
Well, this chasseur (as I will call him, for want of a better 
name) was exceedingly like the great Tom-cat that you have seen 
so often in my chambers, and laughed at almost as often for 
his uncanny gravity of demeanour. Grey whiskers has my Tom 
— grey whiskers had the chasseur ; grey hair overshadows the 
upper lip of my Tom — grey mustachios hid that of the chasseur. 
The pupils of Tom's eyes dilate and contract as I had thought 
cats' pupils only could do, until I saw those of the chasseur. 
To be sure, canny as Tom is, the chasseur had the advantage 
in the more intelligent expression. He seemed to have obtained 
most complete sway over his master or patron, whose looks he 
watched, and whose steps he followed, with a kind of distrust- 
ful interest that puzzled me greatly. 

There were several other groups in the more distant part of 
the saloon, all of the stately old school, all grand and noble, 
I conjectured from their bearing. They seemed perfectly well 
acquainted with each other, as if they were in the habit of 
meeting. But I was interrupted in my observations by the 
tiny little gentleman on the opposite side of the room coming 
across to take a place beside me. It is no difficult matter to a 
Frenchman to slide into conversation ; and so gracefully did 
my pigmy friend keep up the character of the nation, that we 
were almost confidential before ten minutes had elapsed. 

Now I was quite aware that the welcome which all had ex- 
tended to me, from the porter up to the vivacious lady and 
meek lord of the castle, was intended for some other person. 
But it required either a degree of moral courage, of which I 
cannot boast, or the self-reliance and conversational powers of 
a bolder and cleverer man than I, to undeceive people who had 
fallen into so fortunate a mistake for me. Yet the little man by 
my side insinuated himself so much into my confidence that I 
had half a mind to tell him of my exact situation, and to turn 
him into a friend and an ally. 

"Madame is perceptibly growing older," said he in the 
midst of my perplexity, glancing at our hostess. 

" Madame is still a very fine woman," replied I. 

"Now, is it not strange," continued he, lowering his voice, 
"how women ahnost invariably praise the absent, or departed, 



iqS curious if true. 

as if they were angels of light ? while as for the present, or the 
living" — here he shrugged up his little shoulders and made an 
expressive pause. " Would you believe it ! Madame is always 
praising her late husband to monsieur's face ; till, in fact, we 
guests are quite perplexed how to look : for, you know, the 
late M. de Retz's character was quite notorious — everybody has 
heard of him." All the world of Touraine, thought I, but I 
made an assenting noise. 

At this instant, monsieur our host came up to me, and with a 
civil look of tender interest (such as some people put on when 
they inquire after your mother, about whom they do not care 
one straw), asked if I had heard lately how my cat was? 
" How my cat was ! " What could the man mean? My cat ! 
Could he mean the tailless Tom, born in the Isle of Man, and 
now supposed to be keeping guard against the incursions of rats 
and mice into my chambers in London? Tom is, as you 
know, on pretty good terms with some of my friends, using 
their legs for rubbing posts without scruple, and highly esteemed 
by them for his gravity of demeanour, and wise manner of 
winking his eyes. But could his fame have reached across the 
Channel ? However, an answer must be returned to the inquiry, 
as monsieur's face was bent down to mine with a look of polite 
anxiety ; so I, in my turn, assumed an expression of gratitude, 
and assured him that, to the best of my belief, my cat was in 
remarkably good health. 

"And the climate agrees with her?" 

" Perfectly," said I, in a maze of wonder at this deep solici- 
tude in a tailless cat who had lost one foot and half an ear in 
some cruel trap. My host smiled a sweet smile, and, address- 
ing a few words to my little neighbour, passed on. 

"How wearisome those aristocrats are!" quoth my neigh- 
bour, with a slight sneer. "Monsieur's conversation rarely 
extends to more than two sentences to any one. By that time 
his faculties are exhausted, and he needs the refreshment of 
silence. You and I, monsieur, are, at any rate, indebted to 
our own wits for our rise in the world ! " 

Here again I was bewildered ! As you know, I am rather 
proud of my descent from families which, if not noble them- 
selves, are allied to nobility — and as to my " rise in the world" 
— if I had risen, it would have been rather for balloon-like 
qualities than for mother-wit, to being unincumbered with heavy 



CURIOUS IF TRUE. I97 

ballast either in my head or my pockets. However, it was my 
cue to agree : so I smiled again. 

" For my part," said he, " if a man does not stick at trifles, 
if he knows how to judiciously add to, or withhold facts, and 
is not sentimental in his parade of humanity, he is sure to do 
well ; sure to affix a de or von to his name, and end his days in 
comfort. There is an example of what I am saying" — and 
he glanced furtively at the weak-looking master of the sharp, 
intelligent servant, whom I have called the chasseur. 

" Monsieur le Marquis would never have been anything but 
a miller's son, if it had not been for the talents of his servant. 
Of course you know his antecedents ? " 

I was going to make some remarks on the changes in the 
order of the peerage since the days of Louis XVI. — going, in 
fact, to be very sensible and historical — when there was a slight 
commotion among the people at the other end of the room. 
Lacqueys in quaint liveries must have come in from behind 
the tapestry, I suppose (for I never saw them enter, though I 
sate right opposite to the doors), and were handing about the 
slight beverages and slighter viands which are considered 
sufficient refreshments, but which looked rather meagre to my 
hungry appetite. These footmen were standing solemnly oppo- 
site to a lady — beautiful, splendid as the dawn, but — sound 
asleep in a magnificent settee. A gentleman, who showed so 
much irritation at her ill-timed slumbers, that I think he must 
have been her husband, was trying to awaken her with actions 
not far removed from shakings. All in vain ; she was quite 
unconscious of his annoyance, or the smiles of the company, or 
the automatic solemnity of the waiting footman, or the per- 
plexed anxiety of monsieur and madame. 

My little friend sat down with a sneer, as if his curiosity was 
quenched in contempt. 

" Moralists would make an infinity of wise remarks on that 
scene," said he. " In the first place, note the ridiculous position 
into which their superstitious reverence for rank and title puts 
all these people. Because monsieur is a reigning prince over 
some minute principahty, the exact situation of which no one 
has as yet discovered, no one must venture to take their glass 
of eau sucrd till Madame la Princesse awakens ; and, judging 
from past experience, those poor lacqueys may have to stand 
for a century before that happens. Next -always speaking as 



Io8 CURIOUS IF TRUE. 

a moralist, you will observe— note how difficult it is to break 
off bad habits acquired in youth ! " 

Just then the prince succeeded, by what means I did not see, 
in awaking the beautiful sleeper. But at first she did not re- 
member where she was, and looking up at her husband with 
loving eyes, she smiled, and said — 

" Is it you, my prince ? " 

But he was too conscious of the suppressed amusement of 
the spectators, and his own consequent annoyance, to be re- 
ciprocally tender, and turned away with some little Frencli 
expression, best rendered into English by " Pooh, pooh, my 
dear ! " 

After I had had a glass of delicious wine of some unknown 
quality, my courage was in rather better plight than before, 
and I told my cynical little neighbour — whom I must say I was 
beginning to dislike — that I had lost my way in the wood, and 
had arrived at the chateau quite by mistake. 

He seemed mightily amused at my story ; said that the 
same thing had happened to himself more than once ; and 
told me that I had better luck than he had on one of these 
occasions, when, from his account, he must have been in con- 
siderable danger of his life. He ended his story by making 
me admire his boots, which he said he still wore, patched 
though they were, and all their excellent quality lost by 
patching, because they were of such a first-rate make for 
long pedestrian excursions. " Though, indeed," he wound up 
by saying, " the new fashion of railroads would seem to super- 
sede the necessity for this description of boots." 

When I consulted him as to whether I ought to make 
myself known to my host and hostess as a benighted traveller, 
instead of the guest whom they had taken me for, he exclaimed, 
" By no means ! I hate such squeamish morality." And he 
seemed much offended by my innocent question, as if it seemed 
by implication to condemn something in himself He was 
offended and silent ; and just at this moment I caught the 
sweet, attractive eyes of the lady opposite — that lady whom I 
named at first as being no longer in the bloom of youth, but 
as being somewhat infirm about the feet, which were supported 
on a raised cushion before her. Her looks seemed to say, 
"Come here, and let us have some conversation together;" 
and, with a bow of silent excuse to my little companion, I went 



CURIOUS IF TRUE. I99 

across to the lame old lady. She acknowledged my coming 
with the prettiest gesture of thanks possible ; and, half- 
apologetically, said — " It is a little dull to be unable to move 
about on such evenings as this ; but it is a just punishment 
to me for my early vanities. My poor feet, that were by nature 
so small, are now taking their revenge for my cruelty in forc- 
ing them into such little slippers. . . . Besides, monsieur," 
with a pleasant smile, " I thought it was possible you might 
be weary of the malicious sayings of your little neighbour. He. 
has not borne the best character in his youth, and such men 
are sure to be cynical in their old age." 

" Who is he?" asked I, with English abruptness. 

" His name is Poucet, and his father was, I beheve, a wood- 
cutter, or charcoal-burner, or something of the sort. They 
do tell sad stories of connivance at murder, ingratitude, and 
obtaining money on false pretences — but you will think me as 
bad as he if I go on with my slanders. Rather let us admire 
the lovely lady coming up towards us, with the roses in her 
hand — I never see her without roses, they are so closely con- 
nected with her past liistory, as you are doubtless aware. Ah, 
beauty ! " said my companion to the lady drawing near to us, 
"it is hke you to come to me, now that I can no longer go 
to you." Then, turning to me, and gracefully drawing me 
into the conversation, she said, " You must know that, although 
we never met until we were both married, we have been almost 
like sisters ever since. There have been so many points of 
resemblance in our circumstances, and I think I may say in 
our characters. We had each two elder sisters — mine were but 
half-sisters, though — who were not so kind to us as they might 
have been." 

" But have been sorry for it since," put in the other lady. 

"Since we have married princes," continued the same lady, 
with an arch smile that had nothing of unkindness in it, "for 
we both have married far above our original stations in life ; we 
are both unpunctual in our habits, and, in consequence of this 
failing of ours, we have both had to suffer mortification and pain." 

"And both are charming," said a whisper close behind me, 
" My lord the marquis, say it — say, ' And both are charming.' " 

"And both are charming," was spoken aloud by another 
voice. I turned, and saw the wily cat-like chasseur prompting 
his master to make civil speeches. 



2CO CURIOUS IF TRUE. 

The ladies bowed with that kind of haughty acknowledgment 
which shows that compliments from such a source are dis- 
tasteful. But our trio of conversation was broken up, and I 
was sorry for it. The marquis looked as if he had been stirred 
up to make that one speech, and hoped that he would not be 
expected to say more ; while behind him stood the chasseur, 
half-impertinent and half-servile in his ways and attitudes. 
The ladies, who were real ladies, seemed to be sorry for the 
.awkwardness of the marquis, and addressed some trifling 
questions to him, adapting themselves to the subjects on which 
he could have no trouble in answering, The chasseur, mean- 
while, was talking to himself in a growling tone of voice. I 
had fallen a little into the background at this interruption in a 
conversation which promised to be so pleasant, and I could not 
help hearing his words. 

*' Really, De Carabas grows more stupid every day. I have 
a great mind to throw off his boots, and leave him to his fate. 
I was intended for a court, and to a court I will go, and make 
my own fortune as I have made his. The emperor will appre- 
ciate my talents. " 

And such are the habits of the French, or such his for get- 
fulness of good manners in his anger, that he spat right and left 
on the parquetted floor. 

Just then a very ugly, very pleasant-looking man, came 
towards the two ladies to whom I had lately been speaking, 
leading up to them a delicate, fair woman, dressed all in the 
softest white, as if she were vouie au blanc. I do not think 
there was a bit of colour about her. I thought I had heard 
her making, as she came along, a little noise of pleasure, not 
exactly like the singing of a tea-kettle, nor yet like the cooing 
of a dove, but reminding me of each sound. 

"Madame de Mioumiou was anxious to see you," said he, 
addressing the lady with the roses, " so I have brought her across 
to give you a pleasure ! " What an honest, good face ! but oh ! 
how ugly ! And yet I liked his ugliness better than most 
persons' beauty. There was a look of pathetic acknowledg- 
ment of his ugliness, and a deprecation of your too hasty judg- 
ment, in his countenance, that was positively winning. The 
soft, white lady kept glancing at my neighbour the chasseur, 
as if they had had some former acquaintance, which puzzled 
me very much, as they were of such different rank. However, 



CURIOUS IF TRUE. 201 

their nerves were evidently strung to the same tune, for at a 
sound behind the tapestry, which was more hke the scuttering 
of rats and mice than anything else, both Madame de Mioumiou 
and the chasseur started with the most eager look of anxiety 
on their countenances, and by their restless movements — 
madame's panting, and the fiery dilation of his eyes — one might 
see that commonplace sounds affected them both. in a manner 
very different to the rest of the company. The ugly husband 
of the lovely lady with the roses now addressed himself to me — 

"We are much disappointed," he said, "in finding that 
monsieur is not accompanied by his countryman — le grand 
Jean d'Angleterre ; I cannot pronounce his name rightly"— 
and he looked at me to help him out. 

" Le grand Jean d'Angleterre ! " now who was le grand Jean 
d'Angleterre? John Bull? John Russell? John Bright? 

"Jean — Jean" — continued the gentleman, seeing my em- 
barrassment. "Ah, these terrible English names — 'Jean de 
Gdanquilleur ! * " 

I was as wise as ever. And yet the name struck me as 
famihar, but shghtly disguised. I repeated it to myself. It 
was mighty like John the Giant-killer, only his friends always 
call that worthy "Jack." I said the name aloud. 

"Ah, that is it!" said he. "But why has he not accom- 
panied you to our little reunion to-night?" 

I had been rather puzzled once or twice before, but this 
serious question added considerably to my perplexity. Jack 
the Giant-killer had once, it is true, been rather an intimate 
friend of mine, as far as (printer's) ink and paper can keep up 
a friendship, but I had not heard his name mentioned for 
years ; and for aught I knew he lay enchanted with King 
Arthur's knights, who lie entranced until the blast of the 
trumpets of four mighty kings shall call them to help at 
England's need. But the question had been asked in serious 
earnest by that gentleman, whom I more wished to think well 
of me than I did any other person in the room. So I answered 
respectfully that it was long since I had heard anything of my 
countryman ; but that I was sure it would have given him as 
much pleasure as it was doing myself to have been present at 
such an agreeable gathering of friends. He bowed, and then, 
the lame lady took up the word. 

"To-night is the night when, of all the year, this great old 

G 2 



202 CURIOUS IF TRUE. 

forest surrounding the castle is said to be haunted by the 
phantom of a Httle peasant girl who once lived hereabouts ; the 
tradition is that she was devoured by a wolf. In former days I 
have seen her on this night out of yonder window at the end of 
the gallery. Will you, ma belle, take monsieur to see the view 
outside by the moonlight (you may possibly see the phantom- 
child) ; and leave me to a little tete-d-tete with your husband?" 

With a gentle movement the lady with the roses complied 
with the other's request, and we went to a great window, look- 
ing down on the forest, in which I had lost my way. The tops 
of the far-spreading and leafy trees lay motionless beneath us 
in that pale, wan light, which shows objects almost as distinct 
in form, though not in colour, as by day. We looked down on 
the countless avenues which seemed to converge from all quarters 
to the great old castle ; and suddenly across one, quite near to 
us, there passed the figure of a little girl with the " capuchon" 
on, that takes the place of a peasant girl's bonnet in France. 
She had a basket on one arm, and by her, on the side to which 
her head was turned, there went a wolf. I could almost have 
said it was licking her hand, as if in penitent love, if either 
penitence or love had ever been a quality of wolves, but though 
not of living, perhaps it may be of phantom wolves. 

"There, we have seen her!" exclaimed my beautiful com- 
panion. " Though so long dead, her simple story of household 
goodness and trustful simplicity still lingers in the hearts of all 
who have ever heard of her, and the country-people about here 
say that seeing that phantom-child on this anniversary brings 
good luck for the year. Let us hope that we shall share in the 
t-aditionary good fortune. Ah ! here is Madame de Retz — 
^-he retains the name of her first husband, you know, as he 
was of higher rank than the present." We were joined by our 
hostess. 

" If monsieur is fond of the beauties of nature and art," said 
she, perceiving that I had been looking at the view from the 
great window, "he will perhaps take pleasure in seeing the 
picture." Here she sighed, with a little affectation of grief. 
" You know the picture I allude to," addressing my com- 
panion, vv'ho bowed assent and smiled a little maliciously, as I 
followed the lead of madame. 

I went after her to the other end of the saloon, noting by the 
way with M'hat keen curiosity she caught up wliat was passing 



CURIOUS IF TRUE. 203 

either in word or action on each side of her. When we stood 
opposite to the end wall, I perceived a full-length picture of a 
handsome, peculiar-looking man, with— in spite of his good 
looks — a very fierce and scowling expression. My hostess 
clasped her hands together as her arms hung down in front, 
and sighed once more. Then, half in soliloquy, she said — 

" He was the love of my youth ; his stern yet manly character 
first touched this hccart of mine. When— when shall I cease to 
deplore his loss?" 

Not being acquainted with her enough to answer this question 
(if indeed it were not sufficiently answered by the fact of her 
second marriage), I felt awkward ; and, by way of saying some- 
thing, I remarked — 

" The countenance strikes me as resembhng something I 
have seen before — in an engraving from an historical picture, I 
think ; only, it is there the principal figure in a group ; he is 
holding a lady by her hair, and threatening her with his scimitar, 
while two cavaliers are rushing up the stairs, apparently only 
just in time to save her life." 

"Alas, alas!" said she, "you too accurately describe a 
miserable passage in my life, which has often been represented 
in a false light. The best of husbands" — here slie sobbed, and 
became sligluly inarticulate with her grief — " will sometimes be 
displeased. I was young and curious, he was justly angry with 
my disobedience — my brothers were too hasty — the consequence 
is, I became a widow." 

After due respect for her tears, I ventured to suggest some 
commonplace consolation. She turned round sharply — 

"No, monsieur; my only comfort is that I liave never for- 
given the brothers who interfered so cruelly, in such an uncalled- 
for manner, between my dear husband and myself. To quote 
ray friend, Monsieur Sganarelle — ' Ce sont petites choses qui 
sont de temps en temps n^cessaires dans I'amiti^ ; et cinq ou 
six coups d'^p^e entre gens qui s'aiment ne font que ragaillardir 
I'affection.' You observe the colouring is not quite what it 
should be." 

" In this light the beard is of rather a peculiar tint," said I. 

"Yes ; the painter did not do it justice. It was most lovely, 
and gave him such a distinguished air, quite different from the 
common herd. Stay, I will show you the exact colour, if you 
v;ill come near this f!amb?au ! " And <7oing near the lirlit, she 



204 CURIOUS IF TRUE. 

took off a bracelet of hair, with a magnificent clasp of pearls^ 
It was peculiar, certainly. I did not know what to say. ** His 
precious lovely beard ! " said she. " And the pearls go so well 
with the delicate blue ! " 

Her husband, who had come up to us, and waited till her 
eye fell upon him before venturing to speak, now said, "It is 
strange Monsieur Ogre is not yet arrived 1 " 

" Not at all strange," said she tartly. " He was always very 
stupid, and constantly falls into mistakes, in which he comes 
worse off; and it is very well he does, for he is a credulous and 
cowardly fellow. Not at all strange ! If you will " — turning to 
her husband, so that I hardly heard her words, until I caught — ■ 
" I'hen everybody would have their rights, and we should have 
no more trouble. Is it not, monsieur?" addressing me. 

" If I were in England, I should imagine madame was 
speaking of the Reform Bill, or the millennium, but I am in 
ignorance." 

And just as I spoke, the great folding-doors were thrown 
open wide, and every one started to their feet to greet a little 
old lady, leaning on a thin black w^and — and — ■ 

" Madame la F^emarraine," was announced by a chorus of 
sweet shrill voices. 

And in a moment I was lying in the grass close by a hollow 
oak-tree, with the slanting glory of the dawning day shining 
full in my face, and thousands of little birds and delicate insects 
piping and warbling out their welcome to the ruddy splendour. 



^c 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 



CHAPTER I. 

IF you take the turn to the left after you pass the lyke-gate 
at Combehurst Church, you will come to the wooden 
bridge over the brook ; keep along the field-path, which mounts 
higher and higher, and, in half a mile or so, you will be in a 
breezy upland field, almost large enough to be called a down, 
where sheep pasture on the short, fine elastic turf. You look 
down on Combehurst and its beautiful church-spire. After the 
field is crossed, you come to a common, richly coloured with 
the golden gorse and the purple heather, which in summer-time 
send out their warm scents into the quiet air. The swelling 
waves of the upland make a near horizon against the sky ; the 
line is only broken in one place by a small grove of Scotch 
firs, which always look black and shadowed even at mid-day, 
when all the rest of the landscape seems bathed in sunlight. 
The lark quivers and sings high up in the air ; too high— in 
too dazzling a region for you to see her. Look ! she drops into 
sight ; but, as if loth to leave the heavenly radiance, she 
balances herself and floats in the ether. Now she falls suddenly 
right into her nest, hidden among the ling, unseen except by 
the eyes of Heaven, and the small bright insects that run hither 
and thither on the elastic flower-stalks. With something like 
the sudden drop of the lark, the path goes down a green abrupt 
descent ; and in a basin, surrounded by the grassy hills, there 
stands a dwelling, which is neither cottage nor house, but 
something between the two in size. Nor yet is it a farm, 
though surrounded by living things. It is, or rather it was, 
at the time of which I speak, the dwelling of Mrs. Browne, 
the widow of the late curate of Combehurst. There she lived 
with her faithful old servant and her only children, a boy and 
205 



2C6 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

girl. They were as secluded in their green hollow as the house- 
holds in the German forest-tales. Once a week they emerged 
and crossed the common, catching on its summit the first 
sounds of the sweet-toned bells, calling them to church. Mrs. 
Browne walked first, holding Edward's hand. Old Nancy 
followed with Maggie ; but they were all one party, and all 
talked together in a subdued and quiet tone, as beseemed the 
day. They had not much to say, their lives were too unbroken ; 
for, excepting on Sundays, the widow and her children never 
went to Combehurst. Most people would have thought the 
little town a quiet, dreamy place ; but to those two children it 
seemed the world ; and after they had crossed the bridge, they 
each clasped more tightly the hands which they held, and 
looked shyly up from beneath their drooped eyelids when 
spoken to by any of their mother's friends. Mrs. Browne was 
regularly asked by some one to stay to dinner after morning 
church, and as regularly declined, rather to the timid children's 
relief;' although in the week-days they sometimes spoke to- 
gether in a low voice of the pleasure it would be to them if 
mamma would go and dine at Mr. Buxton's, where the little 
girl in white and that great tall boy lived. Instead of staying 
there, or anywhere else, on Sundays, Mrs. Browne thought it 
her duty to go and cry over her husband's grave. The custom 
had arisen out of true sorrow for his loss, for a kinder husband, 
and more worthy man, had never lived ; but the simplicity of 
her sorrow had been destroyed by the observation of others 
on the mode of its manifestation. They made way for her to 
cross the grass towards his grave ; and she, fancying that it 
was expected of her, fell into the habit I have mentioned. Her 
children, holding each a hand, felt awed and uncomfortable, 
and were sensitively conscious how often they were pointed our, 
^is a mourning group, to observation. 

" I wish it would always rain on Sundays," said Edward one 
day to Mag^gie, in a garden-conference. 

"Why?" asked she. 

"Because then we bustle out of church, and get home as 
fast as we can, to save mamma's crape; and we have not to 
go and cry over papa." 

" I don't cry," said Maggie. " Do you?" 

Edward looked round before he answered, to see if they were 
quite alone, and then said — 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 207 

" No ; I was sorry a long time aljoiit papa, but one can't go 
on being sorry for ever. Perhaps grown-up people can." 

" Mamma can," said litile Maggie. " Sometimes I am very 
sorry, too ; when I am by myself, or playing with you, or when 
I am wakened up by the moonlight in your room. Do yoti 
ever waken and fancy you heard papa calling you ? I do some- 
times ; and then I am very sorry to think we shall never hear 
him calling us again." 

"Ah, it's different with me, you know. He used to call me 
to lessons." 

"Sometimes he called me when he was displeased with me. 
But I always dream that he was calling us in his own kind 
voice, as he used to do when he wanted us to walk with him, or 
to show us something pretty." 

Edward was silent, playing with something on the ground. 
At last he looked round again, and having convinced himself 
that they could not be overheard, he whispered — 

"Maggie, sometimes I don't think I'm sorry that papa is 
dead — when I'm naughty, you know ; he would have been so 
angry with me if he had been here ; and I think — only some- 
times, you know — I'm rather glad he is not." 

" Oh, Edward ! you don't mean to say so, I know. Don't let us 
talk about him. We can't talk rightly, we're such little children. 
Don't, Edward, please." 

Poor little Maggie's eyes filled with tears : and she never spoi^e 
again to Edward, or indeed to any one, about her dead father. As 
she grew older, her life became more actively busy. The cottage 
and small outbuildings, and the garden and field, were their 
own ; and on the produce they depended for much of their sup- 
port. The cow, the pig, and the poultry, took up much of 
Nancy's time. Mrs. Browne and Maggie had to do a great deal 
of the housework ; and when the beds were made, and the 
rooms swept and dusted, and the preparations for dinner ready, 
then, if there was any time, Maggie sat down to her lessons. 
Ned, who prided himself considerably on his sex, had been sit- 
ting all the morning in his father's arm-chair, in the little book- 
room, "studying," as he chose to call it. Sometimes Maggie 
would pop her head in with a request that he would help her to 
carry the great pitcher of water upstairs, or do some other little 
hotisehold service ; with which request he occasionally complied, 
l;ut with so many complaints about the interruption that at last 



203 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

she told him she would never ask him again. Gently as this 
was said, he yet felt it as a reproach, and tried to excuse 
himself. 

"You see, Maggie, a man must be educated to be a gentleman. 
Now, if a woman knows how to keep a house that's all that is 
wanted from her. So my time is of more consequence than 
yours. Mamma says I'm to go to college, and be a clergyman ; 
so I must get on with my Latin." 

Maggie submitted in silence, and almost felt it as an act of 
gracious condescension when, a morning or two afterwards, he 
came to meet her as she was toiling in from the well, carrying 
the great brown jug full of spring-water ready for dinner. 
" Here," said he, "let us put it in the shade behind the horse- 
mount. Oh, Maggie ; look what you've done. Spilt it all with 
not turning quickly enough when I told you. Now you may 
fetch it again for yourself, for I'll have nothing to do with it." 

" I did not understand you in time," said she softly. But he 
had turned away, and gone back in offended dignity to the 
house, Maggie had nothing to do but return to the well and fill it 
again. The spring was some distance off, in a little rocky dell. 
It was so cool after her hot walk that she sat down in the 
shadow of the grey limestone rock, and looked at the ferns, wet 
with the dripping water. She felt sad, she knew not why. " I 
think Ned is sometimes very cross," thought she. " I did not 
understand he was carrying it there. Perhaps I am clumsy. 
Mamma says I am ; and Ned says I am. Nancy never says so, 
and papa never said so. I wish I could help being clumsy and 
stupid. Ned says all women are so. I wish I was not a woman. 
It must be a fine thing to be a man. Oh dear ! I must go up the 
field again with this heavy pitcher, and my arms do so ache ! " 
She rose and climbed the steep brae. As she went she heard 
her mother's voice — 

"Maggie! Maggie! there's no water for dinner, and the 
potatoes are quite boiled. Where is that child ?" 

They had begun dinner before she came down from brushing 
her hair and washing her hands. She was hurried and tired. 

"Mother," said Ned, "mayn't I have some butter to these 
potatoes, as there is cold meat? They are so dry." 

"Certainly, my dear. Maggie, go and fetch a pat of butter 
-out of the dairy." 

Maggie went from her untouched dinner without speaking. 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 209 

*'Here, stop, you child!" said Nancy, turning her back in 
the passage. "You go to your dinner — I'll fetch the butter. 
You've been running about enough to-day." 

Maggie durst not go back without it, but she stood in the pas- 
sage till Nancy returned ; and then she put up her mouth to 
be kissed by the kind, rough old servant. 

"Thou'rt a sweet one," said Nancy to herself, as she turned 
into the kitchen ; and Maggie went back to her dinner with a 
soothed and lightened heart. 

When the meal was ended, she helped her mother to wash up 
the old-fashioned glasses and spoons, which were treated with 
tender care and exquisite cleanliness in that house of decent fru- 
gality ; and then, exchanging her pinafore for a black silk apron, 
the little maiden was wont to sit down to some useful piece of 
needlework, in doing which her mother enforced the most 
dainty neatness of stitches. Thus every hour in its circle brought 
a duty to be fulfilled ; but duties fulfilled are as pleasures to the 
memory, and little Maggie always thought those early childish 
days most happy, and remembered them only as filled with care- 
less contentment. 

Yet, at the time, they had their cares. 

In fine summer days Maggie sat out of doors at her work. 
Just beyond the court lay tlie rocky moorland, always as gay as 
that with its profusion of flowers. If the court had its cluster- 
ing noisettes, and fraxinellas, and sweetbriar, and great tall 
white lilies, the moorland had its little creeping scented rose, its 
straggling honeysuckle, and an abundance of yellow cistus ; 
and here and there a grey rock cropped out of the ground, and 
over it the yellow stone-crop and scarlet-leaved crane's-bill 
grew luxuriantly. Such a rock was Maggie's seat. I believe 
she considered it her own, and loved it accordingly ; although 
its real owner was a great lord, who lived far away, and had 
never seen the moor, much less the piece of grey rock, in his 
life. 

The afternoon of the day which I have begun to tell you 
about, she was sitting there, and singing to herself as she 
worked ; she was within call of home, and could hear all home 
sounds with their shrillness softened down. Between her and it, 
Edward was amusing himself; he often called upon her for 
sympathy, which she as readily gave. 

" I wonder how men make their boats steady ; I have taken 



2iO THE luOOI^LAND COTTAGE. 

mine to the pond, and she has toppled over every time I sent 
her in." 

" Has it? — that's very tiresome ! Would it do to put a little 
weight in it, to keep it down?" 

" How often must I tell you to call a ship * her ; ' and there 
you will go on saying — it — it ! " 

After this correction of his sister, Master Edward did not like 
the condescension of acknowledging her suggestion to be a 
good one ; so he went silently to the house in search of the 
requisite ballast ; but not being able to find anything suitable, he 
came back to his turfy hillock, littered round with chips of 
wood, and tried to insert some pebbles into his vessel ; but they 
stuck fast, and he was obhged to ask again. 

"Supposing it was a good thing to weight her, what could I 
put in?" 

Maggie thought a moment. 

" Would shot do?" asked she. 

" It would be the very thing ; but where can I get any?" 

"There is some that was left of papa's. It is in the right- 
hand corner of the second drawer of the bureau, wrapped up in 
a newspaper." 

"What a plague! I can't remember your 'seconds,' and 
* right-hands,' and fiddle-faddles." He worked on at his 
pebbles. They would not do. 

"I think if you were good-natured, Maggie, you might go 
for me." 

"Oh, Ned! I've all this long seam to do. Mamma said I 
must finish it before tea ; and that I might play a little if I had 
done it first," said Maggie rather plaintively; for it was a real 
pain to her to refuse a request. 

" It would not take you five minutes." 

Maggie thought a little. The time would only be taken out 
of her playing, which, after all, did not signify ; while Edward 
was really busy about his ship. She rose, and clambered up 
the steep grassy slope, slippery with the heat. 

Before she had found the paper of shot, she heard her 
mother's voice calling, in a sort of hushed hurried loudness, as 
if anxious to be heard by one person, yet not by another — 
"Edward, Edward, come home quickly. Here's Mr. Buxton 
coming along the Fell Lane ; he's coming here, as sure as 
sixpence; come, Edward, come." 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 211 

Maggie saw Edward put down his ship and come. At his 
mother's bidding it certainly was ; but he strove to make this as 
httle apparent as he could, by sauntering up the slope, with his 
hands in his pockets, in a very independent and nigligd style. 
Maggie had no time to watch longer ; for now she was called, 
too, and downstairs she ran. 

"Here, Maggie," said her mother in a nervous hurry, "help 
Nancy to get a tray ready all in a minute. I do believe here's 
Mr. Buxton coming to call. Oh, Edward ! go and brush your 
hair, and put on your Sunday jacket ; here's Mr. Buxton just 
coming round. I'll only run up and change my cap ; and 
you say you'll come up and tell me, Nancy ; all proper, you 
know." 

" To be sure, ma'am. I've lived in families afore now," said 
Nancy gruffly. 

"Oh, yes, I know you have. Be sure you bring in the cov,- 
slip wine. I wish I could have stayed to decant some port." 

Nancy and Maggie bustled about, in and out of the kitchen 
and dairy ; and were so deep in their preparations for Mr. 
Buxton's reception that they were not aware of the very presence 
of that gentleman himself on the scene. He had found the 
front door open, as is wont in country places, and had walked 
in ; first stopping at the empty parlour, and then finding his 
way to the place where voices and sounds proclaimed that there 
were inhabitants. So he stood there, stooping a little under 
the low-browed lintels of the kitchen door, and looking large, 
and red, and warm, but with a pleased and almost amused 
expression of face. 

"Lord bless me, sir! what a start you gave me!** said 
Nancy, as she suddenly caught sight of him. " I'll go and tell 
my missus in a minute that you're come." 

Off she went, leaving Maggie alone with the great, tall, broad 
gentleman, smiling at her from his frame in the door- way, but 
never speaking. She went on dusting a wine-glass most 
assiduously. 

"Well done, little girl," came out a fine strong voice at 
last. "Now I think that will do. Come and show me the 
parlour where I may sit down, for I've had a long walk, and 
am very tired." 

Maggie took him into the parlour, which was always cool 
and fresh in the hottest weather. It was scented by a great 



212 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

iDcau-pot filled with roses ; and, besides, the casement was 
open to the fragrant court. Mr. Buxton was so large, and 
the parlour so small, that when he was once in, Maggie 
thought, when he went away, he would carry the room on 
his back, as a snail does its house. 

"And so you are a notable litde woman, are you? " said he, 
after he had stretched himself (a very unnecessary proceeding), 
and unbuttoned his waistcoat. Maggie stood near the door 
uncertain whether to go or to stay. " How bright and clean 
you are making that glass ! Do you think you could get me 
some water to fill it? Mind, it must be that very glass I saw 
you polishing. I shall know it again." 

Maggie was thankful to escape out of the room ; and in the 
passage she met her mother, who had made time to change 
her gown as well as her cap. Before Nancy would allow the 
■little girl to return with the glass of water, she smoothed her 
short-cut glossy hair ; it was all that was needed to make her 
look delicately neat. Maggie was conscientious in trying to 
find out the identical glass ; but I am afraid Nancy was not 
quite so truthful in avouching that one of the six, exactly 
similar, which were now placed on the tray, was the same 
she had found on the dresser, when she came back from telling 
her mistress of Mr. Buxton's arrival. 

Maggie carried in the water, with a shy pride in the clearness 
■of the glass. Her mother was sitting on the edge of her chair, 
speaking in unusually fine language, and with a higher pitched 
voice than conmion. Edward, in all his Sunday glory, was 
standing by Mr. Buxton, looking happy and conscious. But 
when Maggie came in, Mr. Buxton made room for her between 
Edward and himself, and while he went on talking, lifted her 
on to his knee. She sat there as on a pinnacle of honour ; but 
as she durst not nestle up to him, a chair would have been the 
more comfortable seat. 

"As founder's line, I have a right of presentation; and for 
my dear old friend's sake " (here Mrs. Browne wiped her eyes), 
" I am truly glad of it ; my young friend will have a httle form 
of examination to go through ; and then we shall see him 
carrying every prize before him, I have no doubt. Thank you — 
just a httle of your sparkling cowslip wine. Ah ! this gingerbread 
is like the gingerbread I had when I was a boy. My little 
lady here must learn the receipt, and make me some. Will she ? " 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 2 1 3. 

" Speak to Mr. Buxton, child, who is kind to your brother. 
You will make him some gingerbread, I am sure." 

" If I may," said Maggie, hanging down her head. 

" Or, I'll tell you what. Suppose you come to my house, and 
teach us bow to make it there ; and then, you know, we could 
always be making gingerbread when we were not eating it. 
That would be best, I think. Must I ask mamma to bring you 
down to Combehurst, and let us all get acquainted together? I 
have a great boy and a little girl at home, who will like to see 
you, I'm sure. And we have got a pony for you to ride on, 
and a peacock and guinea fowls, and I don't know what all. 
Come, madam, let me persuade you. School begins in three 
weeks. Let us fix a day before them." 

"Do, mamma," said Edward. 

"I am not in spirits for visiting," Mrs. Browne answered. 
But the quick children detected a hesitation in her manner of 
saying the oft-spoken words, and had hopes if only Mr. Buxton 
would persevere in his invitation. 

"Your not visiting is the very reason why you are not in 
spirits. A little change, and a few neighbourly faces, would 
do you good, I'll be bound. Besides, for the children's sake 
you should not live too secluded a life. Young people should 
see a little of the world." 

Mrs. Browne was much obliged to Mr. Buxton for giving 
her so decent an excuse for following her inclination, which, it 
must be owned, tended to the acceptance of the invitation. So, 
"for the children's sake," she consented. But she sighed, as if 
making a sacrifice. 

"That's right," said Mr. Buxton. " Now for the day." 

It was fixed that they should go on that day week ; and after 
some further conversation about the school at which Edward 
was to be placed, and some more jokes about Maggie's nota- 
bility, and an inquiry if she would come and live with him 
the next time he wanted a housemaid, Mr. Buxton took his 
leave. 

His visit had been an event, and they made no great attempt 
at settling again that day to any of their usual employments. 
In the first place, Nancy came in to hear and discuss all the 
proposed plans. Ned, who was uncertain whether to like or 
dislike the prospect of school, was very much offended by the 
old servant's remark, on first hearing of the project. 



214 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

" It's tinie for him. He'll learn his place there, which, it 
strikes me, he and others too are apt to forget at home." 

Then followed discussions and arrangements respecting his 
clothes. And tlien they came to the plan of spending a day at 
Mr. Buxton's, which Mrs. Browne was rather shy of. mention- 
ing, having a sort of an idea of inconstancy and guilt connected 
with the thought of mingling with the world again. However, 
Nancy approved : " It was quite right," and "just as it should 
be," and " good for the children." 

"Yes ; it Vvas on their account I did it, Nancy," said Mrs. 
Browne. 

" How many children has ^Ir. Buxton ?" asked Edward. 

"Only one — Frank, I think they call him. But you must 
say Master Buxton ; be sure." 

"Who is that little girl, then," asked Maggie, "who sits 
with them in church?" 

" Oh ! that's little Miss Harvey, his niece, and a great fortune." 

" They do say he never forgave her mother till the day of her 
death," remarked Na.ncy. 

"Then they tell stories, Nancy!" replied Mrs. Browne (it 
was she herself who had said it ; but that was before Mr. 
Buxton's call). " For d'ye think his sister would have left him 
guardian to her child if they were not on good terms?" 

" Well ! I only know what folks say. And, for sure, he took 
a spite at Mr. Harvey for no reason on earth ; and every one 
knows he never spoke to him." 

" He speaks very kindly and pleasantly," put in Maggie. 

"Ay; and I'm not saying but what he is a very good, kind 
man in the main. But he has his whims, and keeps hold on 
'em when he's got 'em. There's them pies burning, and I'm 
talking here ! " 

When Nancy had returned to her kitchen, Ivirs. Browne 
called Maggie upstairs, to examine what clothes would be 
needed for Edward. And when they were up she tried on the 
black satin gown, which had been her visiting dress ever since 
she was married, and which she intended should replace the 
old, worn-out bombazine on the day of the visit to Combehurst. 

"For Mrs. Buxton is a real born lady," said she; "and I 
should Hke to be well dressed, to do her honour." 

"I did not know there was a Mrs. Buxton," said Maggie. 
^' S]ie is never at chnrcli." 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 21$ 

"No; she is but delicate and weakly, and never leaves the 
house. I tliink her maid told me she never left her room now." 

The Buxton family, root and branch, formed thefiece de resist- 
ance in the conversation between Mrs. Browne and her children 
for the next week. As the day drew near, Maggie almost wished 
to stay at home, so impressed was she with the awfulness of the 
visit. Edward felt bold in the idea of a new suit of clothes, 
which had been ordered for the occasion, and for school after- 
wards. Mrs. Browne remembered having heard the rector say, 
"A woman never looked so lady-like as when she wore black 
satin," and kept her spirits up with that observation ; but when 
she saw how worn it was at the elbows, she felt rather depressed, 
and unequal to visiting. Still, for her children's sake, she would 
do much. 

After her long day's work was ended, Nancy sat up at her 
sewing. She had found out that among all the preparations, 
none were going on for Margaret ; and she had used her 
influence over her mistress (who half-liked, and half- feared, 
and entirely depended upon her) to obtain from her an old 
gown, which she had taken to pieces, and washed and scoured, 
and was now making up, in a way a little old-fashioned, to be 
sure ; but, on the whole, it looked so nice when completed 
and put on, that Mrs. Browne gave Maggie a strict lecture 
about taking great care of such a handsome frock, and forgot 
that she had considered the gown from which it had been made 
as worn out and done for. 



CHAPTER II. 

At length they were dressed, and Nancy stood on the court- 
steps, shading her eyes, and looking after them, as they climbed 
the heathery slope leading to Combehurst. 

" I wish she'd take her hand sometim.es, just to let her know 
the feel of her mother's hand. Perhaps she will, at least after 
Master Edward goes to school." 

As they went along, Mrs. Browne gave the children a few 
rules respecting manners and etiquette. 

"Maggie! you must sit as upright as ever you can; make 
your bnck flat, child, and don't poke. If I cough, you must 



2l6 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

draw up. I shall cough whenever I see you do anything wrong, 
and I shall be looking at you all day ; so remember. You hold 
yourself very well, Edward. If Mr. Buxton asks you, you may 
have a glass of wine, because you're a boy. But mind and say, 
* Your good health, sir,' before you drink it." 

" I'd rather not have the wine if I'm to say that," said Edward 
bluntly. 

" Oh, nonsense, my dear. You'd wish to be like a gentleman, 
I'm sure." 

Edward muttered something which was inaudible. His 
mother went on — 

"Of course you'll never think of being helped more than 
twice. Twice of meat, twice of pudding, is the genteel thing. 
You may take less, but never more." 

" Oh, mamma ! how beautiful Combehurst spire is, with that 
dark cloud behind it ! " exclaimed Maggie, as they came in sight 
of the town. 

" You've no business with Combehurst spire when I'm speak- 
ing to you. I'm talking myself out of breath to teach you how 
to behave, and there you go looking after clouds, and such-like 
rubbish. I'm ashamed of you." 

Although Maggie walked quietly by her mother's side all the 
rest of the way, Mrs. Browne was too much offended to resume 
her instructions on good-breeding. Maggie might be helped 
three times if she liked : she had done with her. 

They were very early. When they drew near the bridge, they 
were met by a tall, fine-looking boy, leading a beautiful little 
Shetland pony, with a side saddle on it. He came up to Mrs. 
Browne, and addressed her — 

" My father thought your little girl would be tired, and he 
told me to bring my cousin Erminia's pony for her. It's as 
quiet as can be." 

Now this was rather provoking to Mrs. Browne, as she chose 
to consider Maggie in disgrace. However, there was no help 
for it : all she could do was to spoil the enjoyment as far as 
possible, by looking and speaking in a cold manner, which often 
chilled Maggie's little heart, and took all the zest out of the 
pleasure now. It was in vain that Frank Buxton made the 
pony trot and canter ; she still looked sad and grave. 

"Little dull thing!" he thought ; but he was as kind and 
considerate as a gentlemanly boy could be. 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 217 

At last they reached Mr. Buxton's house. It was in the mam 
street, and the front door opened upon it by a flight of steps. 
Wide on each side extended the stone-coped windows. It was 
in reahty a mansion, and needed not the neighbouring contrast 
of the cottages on either side to make it look imposing. When 
they went in, they entered a large hall, cool even on that burn- 
ing July day, with a black and white flag floor, and old settees 
round the walls, and great jars of curious china, which were 
filled with pot-pourrie. The dusky gloom was pleasant, after 
the glare of the street outside ; and the requisite light and 
cheerflilness were given by the peep into the garden, framed, as 
it were, by the large doorway that opened into it. There were 
roses, and sweet-peas, and poppies — a rich mass of colour, 
which looked well, set in the somewhat sombre coolness of the 
hall. All the house told of wealth — wealth which had accumu- 
lated for generations, and which was shown in a sort of com- 
fortable, grand, unostentatious way. Mr. Buxton's ancestors 
had been yeomen ; but two or three generations back they 
might, if ambitious, have taken their place as county gentry, 
so much had the value of their property increased, and so great 
had been the amount of their savings. They, however, con- 
tinued to live in the old farm, till Mr. Buxton's grandfather 
built the house in Combehurst of which I am speaking, and 
then he felt rather ashamed of what he had done ; it seemed 
like stepping out of his position. He and his wife always sat 
in the best kitchen, and it was only after his son's marriage 
that the entertaining rooms were furnished. Even then they 
were kept with closed shutters and bagged-up furniture during 
the lifetime of the old couple, who, nevertheless, took a pride 
in adding to the rich-fashioned ornaments and grand old china 
of the apartments. But they died, and were gathered to their 
fathers, and young Mr. and Mrs. Buxton (aged respectively 
fifty-one and forty-five) reigned in their stead. They had the 
good taste to make no sudden change, but gradually the rooms 
assumed an inhabited appearance, and their son and daughter 
grew up in the enjoyment of great wealth, and no small degree 
of refinement. But as yet they held back modestly from 
putting themselves in any way on a level with the county 
people. Lawrence Buxton was sent to the same school as 
his father had been before him ; and the notion of his going 
to college to complete his education was, after some delibera- 



21 3 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

tion, negatived. In process of time he succeeded his father, 
and married a sweet, g ntle lady, of a decayed and very 
poor county family, by whom he had one boy before she 
fell into delicate health. His sister had married a man whose 
character was worse than his fortune, and had been left a 
widow. Everybody thought her husband's death a blessing ; 
but she loved him, in spite of negligence and many grosser 
faults : and so, not many years after, she died, leaving her little 
daughter to her brother's care, with many a broken-voiced 
entreaty that he would never speak a word against the dead 
father of her child. So the little Erminia was taken home by 
her self-reproaching uncle, who felt now how hardly he had 
acted towards his sister in breaking off all communication with 
her on her ill-starred marriage. 

"Where is Erminia, Frank?" asked his father, speaking 
over Maggie's shoulder, while he still held her hand. " I want 
to take Mrs. Browne to your mother. I told Erminia to be here 
to welcome this little girl." 

" I'll take her to Minnie ; I think she's in the garden. I'll 
come back to you," nodding to Edward, "directly, and then 
we will go to the rabbits." 

So Frank and Maggie left the great lofty room, full of 
strange, rare things, and rich with books, and went into the 
sunny, scented garden, which stretched far and wide behind 
the house. Down one of the walks, with a hedge of roses on 
either side, came a little tripping fairy, with long golden 
ringlets, and a complexion like a china rose. With the deep 
blue of the summer sky behind her, Maggie thought she 
looked like an angel. She neither hastened nor slackened her 
pace when she saw them, but came on with the same dainty 
light prancing step. 

" Make haste, Minnie," cried Frank. 

But Minnie stopped to gather a rose. 

"Don't stay with me," said Maggie softly, although she had 
held his hand like that of a friend, and did not feel that the 
little fairy's manner was particularly cordial or gracious. Frank 
took her at her word, and ran off to Edward. 

Erminia came a little quicker when she saw that Maggie was 
left alone ; but for some time after they were together, they had 
notliing to say to each other. Erminia was easily impressed by 
the pomps and vanities of the world, and Maggie's new hand- 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 219 

some frock seemed to her made of old ironed brown silk. And 
though Maggie's voice was soft, with a silver, ringing sound in 
it, she pronounced her words in Nancy's broad, country way. 
Her hair was cut short all round, her shoes were thick, and 
clumped as she walked. Erminia patronised her, and thought 
herself very kind and condescending, but they were not par- 
ticularly friendly. The visit promised to be more honourable 
than agreeable, and Maggie almost wished herself at home 
again. Dinner-time came. Mrs. Buxton dined in her own 
room. Mr. Buxton was hearty, and jovial, and pressing ; he 
almost scolded Maggie because she would not take more than 
twice of his favourite pudding ; but she remembered what her 
mother had said, and that she would be watched all day ; and 
this gave her a little prim, quaint manner, very different from 
her usual soft, charming unconsciousness. She fancied that 
Edward and Master Buxton were just as little at their ease with 
each other as she and Miss Harvey. Perhaps this feeling on 
the part of the boys made all four children unite after dinner. 

" Let us go to the swing in the shrubbery," said Frank, after 
a little consideration : and off they ran. Frank proposed that 
he and Edward should swing the two little girls ; and for a 
time all went on very well. But by-and-by Edward thought 
that Maggie had had enough, and that he should like a turn, 
and Maggie, at his first word, got out. 

" Don't you like swinging?" asked Erminia. 

" Yes ! but Edward would like it now." And Edward accord- 
ingly took her place. Frank turned away and would not swing 
liim. Maggie strove hard to do it, but he was heavy, and the 
swing bent unevenly. He scolded her for what she could not 
help, and at last jumped out so roughly, that the seat hit 
Maggie's face, and knocked her down. When she got up, her 
lips quivered with pain, but she did not cry; she only looked 
anxiously at her frock. There was a great rent across the 
front breadth. Then she did shed tears, tears of fright. Wi^at 
would her mother say? 

Erminia saw her crying. 

"Are you hurt?" said she kindly. "Oh, how your cheek is 
swelled ! What a rude, cross boy your brother is ! " 

"I did not know he was going to jump out. I am not 
crying because I am hurt, but because of this great rent in my 
nice new frock. Mamma will be so displeased." 



220 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

" Is it a new frock? " asked Erminia. 

" It is a new one for me. Nancy had sat up several nights to 
make it. Oh i what shall I do ? " 

Erminia's little heart was softened by such excessive poverty, 
A best frock made of shabby old silk ! She put her arms round 
Maggie's neck and said — 

" Come with me ; we will go to my aunt's dressing-room, and 
Dawson will give me some silk, and I'll help you to mend it." 

" That's a kind little Minnie," said Frank. Ned had turned 
sulkily away. I do not think the boys were ever cordial again 
that day ; for, as Frank said to his mother, " Ned might have 
said he was sorry ; but he is a regular tyrant to that little brown 
mouse of a sister of his." 

Erminia and Maggie went, with their arms round each 
other's necks, to Mrs. Buxton's dressing-room. The misfortune 
had made them friends. Mrs. Buxton lay on the sofa ; so fair 
and white and colourless, in her muslin dressing-gown, that 
when Maggie first saw the lady lying with her eyes shut, her 
heart gave a start, for she thought she was dead. But she 
opened her large, languid eyes, and called them to her, and 
listened to their story with interest. 

" Dawson is at tea. Look, Minnie, in my workbox ; there 
is some silk there. Take off your frock, my dear, and bring 
it here, and let me see how it can be mended." 

"Aunt Buxton," whispered Erminia, "do let me give her 
one of my frocks. This is such an old thing." 

" No, love. I'll tell you why afterwards," answered Mrs. 
Buxton. 

She looked at the rent, and arranged it nicely for the little 
girls to mend. Erminia helped Maggie with right goodwill. 
As they sat on the floor, Mrs. Buxton thought what a pretty 
contrast they made ; Erminia, dazzlingly fair, with her golden 
ringlets and her pale-blue frock : Maggie's little round white 
shoulders peeping out of her petticoat ; her brown hair as 
glossy and smooth as the nuts that it resembled in colour ; her 
long black eye-lashes drooping over her clear, smooth cheek, 
which would have given the idea of delicacy, but for the coral 
lips that spoke of perfect health ; and when she glanced up, 
she showed long, liquid, dark-grey eyes. The deep red of the 
curtain behind threw out these two little figures well. 

Dawson came up. She was a grave, elderly person, of whom 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 221 

Erminia was far more afraid than she was of her aunt ; but at 
Mrs. Buxton's desire she finished mending the frock for Maggie. 

"Mr. Buxton has asked some of your mamma's old friends 
to tea, as I am not able to go down. But I think, Dawson, 
I must have these two little girls to tea with me. Can you be 
very quiet, my dears, or shall you think it dull ? " 

They gladly accepted the invitation ; and Erminia promised 
all sorts of fanciful promises as to quietness ; and went about 
on her tiptoes in such a laboured manner, that Mrs. Buxton 
begged her at last not to try and be quiet, as she made much 
less noise when she did not. It was the happiest part of the 
day to Maggie. Something in herself was so much in har- 
mony with Mrs. Buxton's sweet resigned gentleness, that it 
answered like an echo, and the two understood each other 
strangely well. They seemed like old friends. Maggie, who 
was reserved at home because no one cared to hear what she 
had to say, opened out, and told Erminia and Mrs. Buxton 
all about her way of spending her day, and described her home. 

"How odd!" said Erminia. "I have ridden that way on 
Abd-el-Kadr, and never seen your house." 

"It is like the place the Sleeping Beauty lived in; people 
sometimes seem to go round it and round it, and never find 
it. But unless you follow a little sheep-track, which seems to 
end at a grey piece of rock, you may come within a stone's 
throw of the chimneys and never see them. I think you would 
think it so pretty. Do you ever come that way, ma'am ? " 

" No, love," answered Mrs. Buxton, 

"But will you some time?" 

" I am afraid I shall never be able to go out again," said 
Mrs. Buxton, in a voice which, though low, was very cheer- 
ful. Maggie thought how sad a lot was here before her ; and 
by-and-by she took a little stool, and sat by Mrs. Buxton's 
sofa, and stole her hand into hers. 

Mrs. Browne was in full tide of pride and happiness down- 
stairs. Mr. Buxton had a number of jokes, which would have 
become dull from repetition (for he worked a merry idea thread- 
bare before he would let it go) had it not been for his jovial 
blandness and good-nature. He liked to make people happy, 
and, as far as bodily wants went, he had a quick perception 
of what was required. He sat like a king (for, excepting the 
rector, there was not another gentleman of his standing at 



222 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

Combeimrsi), among six or seven ladies, who laughed merrily 
at all his sayings, and evidently thought Mrs. Browne had been 
highly honoured in having been asked to dinner as well as to 
tea. In the evening, the carriage was ordered to take her as 
far as a carriage could go ; and there was a little mysterious 
hand-shaking between her host and herself on taking leave, 
which made her very curious for the lights of home by which 
to examine a bit of rustling paper that had been put in her 
hand with some stammered-out words about Edward. 

When every one had gone, there was a litile gathering in 
Mrs. Buxton's dressing-room. Husband, son, and niece, all 
came to give her their opinions on the day and the visitors. 

" Good Mrs. Browne is a little tiresome," said Mr. Buxton, 
yawning. " Living in that moorland hole, I suppose. How- 
ever, I think she has enjoyed her day ; and we'll ask her down 
now and then, for Browne's sake. Poor Browne ! what a good 
man he was !" 

*' I don't like that boy at all," said Frank. " I beg you'll 
not ask him again while Lm at home : he is so selfish and self- 
important ; and yet he's a bit snobbish now and then. Mother! 
I know what you mean by that look. Well ! if I am self- 
important sometimes, Lm not a snob." 

"Little Maggie is very nice," said Erminia. "What a pity 
she has not a new frock ! Was not she good about it, 
Frank, when she tore it ? " 

" Yes, she's a nice little thing enough, if she does not get 
all spirit cowed out of her by that brother. I'm thankful that 
he is going to school." 

When Mrs. Browne heard where Maggie had drank ten, 
she was offended. She had only sat with Mrs. Buxton for an 
hour before dinner. If Mrs. Buxton could bear the noise of 
children, she could not think why she shut herself up in that 
room, and gave herself such airs. She supposed it was because 
she was the grand-daughter of Sir Henry Biddulph that she 
took upon herself to have such whims, and not sit at the head 
of her table, or make tea for her company in a civil, decent 
way. Poor Mr. Buxton ! What a sad life for a merry liglit- 
liearted man to have such a wife ! It was a good thing for 
him to have agreeable society sometimes. She thought he 
looked a deal better for seeing his friends. He must be sadly 
moped with that sickly wife. 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 223 

(If she had been clairvoyante at that moment, she might have 
seen Mr. Buxton tenderly chafing" his wife's hands, and feehng 
in his innermost soul a wonder how one so saint-like could 
ever have learnt to love such a boor as he was ; it was the 
wonderful mysterious blessing of his life. So little do v/e 
know of the inner truths of the households, where we come 
and go like intimate guests !) 

Maggie could not bear to hear Mrs. Buxton spoken of as a 
fine lady assuming illness. Her heart beat hard as slie spoke. 
" Mamma ! I am sure she is really ill. Her lips kept going 
so white ; and her hand was so burning hot all the time that 
I held it." 

"Have you been holding Mrs. Buxton's hand? Where 
were your manners ? You are a little forward creature, and 
ever were. But don't pretend to know better than your elders. 
It is no use telling me Mrs. Buxton is ill, and she able to bear 
the noise of children." 

" I think they are all a pack of set-up people, and that 
Frank Buxton is the worst of all," said Edward. 

Maggie's heart sank within her to hear this cold unkind way 
of talking over the friends who had done so much to make 
their day happy. She had never before ventured into the 
world, and did not know how common and universal is the 
custom of picking to pieces those with whom we have just 
been associating ; and so it pained her. She was a little de- 
pressed too, with the idea that she should never see Mt<. 
Buxton and the lovely Erminia again. Because no future visit 
or intercourse had been spoken about, she fancied it would 
never take place ; and she felt like the man in the Arabian 
Nights, who caught a glimpse of the precious stones and 
dazzling glories of the cavern, which was immediately after 
closed, and shut up into the semblance of hard, barren rock. 
She tried to recall the house. Deep blue, crimson red, warm 
brown draperies, were so striking after the light chintzes of her 
own house ; and the effect of a suite of rooms opening out of 
each other was something quite new to the little girl ; the 
apartments seemed to melt away into vague distance, like the 
dim endings of the arched aisles in church. But most of ail 
she tried to recall Mrs. Buxton's face ; and Nancy had at last 
to put away her work, and come to bed, in order to soothe 
the poor child, who was crying at the thouglU that Mrs. Buxton 



224 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

would soon die, and that she should never see her again. 
Nancy loved Maggie dearly, and felt no jealousy of this warm 
admiration of the unknown lady. She listened to her story 
and her fears till the sobs were hushed ; and the moon fell 
through the casement on the white closed eyelids of one who 
still sighed in her sleep. 



CHAPTER III. 

In three weeks, the day came for Edward's departure. A great 
cake and a parcel of gingerbread soothed his sorrows on 
leaving home. 

" Don't cry, Maggie ! " said he to her on the last morning ; 
** you see I don't. Christmas will soon be here, and I dare 
say I shall find time to write to you now and then. Did Nancy 
put any citron in the cake?" 

Maggie wished she might accompany her mother to Combe- 
hurst to see Edward off by the coach ; but it was not to be. 
She went with them, without her bonnet, as far as her mother 
would allow her ; and then she sat down, and watched their 
progress for a long, long way. She was startled by the sound 
of a horse's feet, softly trampling through the long heather. 
It was Frank Buxton's. 

"My father thought Mrs. Browne would like to see the 
Woodckes/er Hei'ald, Is Edward gone?" said he, noticing 
her sad face. 

"Yes; he is just gone down the hill to the coach. I dare 
say you can see him crossing the bridge, soon. I did so want 
to have gone with him," answered she, looking wistfully towards 
the town. 

Frank felt sorry for her, left alone to gaze after her brother, 
whom, strange as it was, she evidently regretted. After a 
minute's silence, he said — 

"You liked riding the other day. Would you like a ride 
now? Rhoda is very gentle, if you can sit on my saddle. 
Look ! I'll shorten the stirrup. There now ; there's a brave 
little girl ! I'll lead her very carefully. Why, Erminia durst not 
ride without a side-saddle ! I'll tell you what ; I'll bring the 
newspaper every Wednesday till I go to school, and you shall 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 225 

have a ride. Only I wish we had a side-saddle for Rhoda. 
Or, if Erminia will let me, I'll bring Abd-el-Kadr, the little 
Shetland you rode the other day." 

" But will Mr. Buxton let you?" asked Maggie, half-delighted 
— half-afraid. 

"Oh, my father! to be sure he will. I have him in very 
good order." 

Maggie was rather puzzled by this way of speaking. 

" When do you go to school? " asked she. 

" Towards the end of August ; I don't know the day." 

" Does Erminia go to school ? " 

"No; I believe she will soon, though, if mamma does not 
get better." Maggie liked the change of voice, as he spoke of 
his mother. 

"There! Httle lady! now jump down. Famous! you've a 
deal of spirit, you little brown mouse." 

Nancy came out, with a wondering look, to receive Maggie. 

"It is Mr. Frank Buxton," said she, by way of an intro- 
duction. " He has brought mamma the newspaper." 

" Will you walk in, sir, and rest ? I can tie up your horse." 

" No, thank you," said he, " I must be off. Don't forget, 
little Mousey, that you are to be ready for another ride next 
Wednesday." And away he went. 

It needed a good deal of Nancy's diplomacy to procure 
Maggie this pleasure : although I don't know why Mrs. Browne 
should have denied it, for the circle they went was always 
within sight of the knoll in front of the house, if any one cared 
enough about the matter to mount it, and look after them. 
Frank and Maggie got great friends in these rides. Her fear- 
lessness delighted and surprised him, she had seemed so cowed 
and timid at first. But she was only so with people, as he 
found out before his holidays ended. He saw her shrink from 
particular looks and inflexions of voice of her mother's ; and 
learnt to read them, and dislike Mrs. Browne accordingly, 
notwithstanding all her sugary manner towards himself. The 
result of his observations he communicated to his mother, and, 
in consequence, he was the bearer of a most civil and cere- 
monious message from Mrs. Buxton to Mrs. Browne, to the 
effect that the former would be much obliged to the latter if 
she would allow Maggie to ride down occasionally with the 
groom, who would bring the newspapers on the Wednesdays 



226 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

(now Frank was going to school), and to spend the afternoon 
with Erminia. Mrs. Browne consented, proud of the honour, 
and yet a httle annoyed that no mention was made of herself. 
When Frank had bid " good-bye," and fairly disappeared, she 
turned to Maggie. 

" You must not set yourself up if you go amongst these fine 
folks. It is their way of showing attention to your father and 
myself. And you must mind and work doubly hard on Thurs- 
days to make up for playing on Wednesdays." 

Maggie was in a flush of sudden colour, and a happy palpita- 
tion of her fluttering little heart. She could hardly feel any 
sorrow that the kind Frank was going away, so brimful was she 
of the thoughts of seeing his mother ; who had grown strangely 
associated in her dreams, both sleeping and waking, with the 
still calm marble effigies that lay for ever clasping their hands 
in prayer on the altar-tombs in Combehurst Church. All the 
week was one happy season of anticipation. She was afraid her 
m,other was secretly irritated at her natural rejoicing ; and so 
she did not speak to her about it, but she kept awake till Nancy 
came to bed, and poured into her sympathising ears every detail, 
real or imaginary, of her past or future intercourse with Mrs. 
Buxton. And the old servant listened with interest, and fell 
into the custom of picturing the future with the ease and sim- 
plicity of a child. 

"Suppose, Nancy, only suppose you know, that she did die. 
I don't mean really die, but go into a trance like death ; she 
looked as if she was in one when I first saw her. I would not 
leave her, but I would sit by her, and watch her, and watch 
her." 

" Her lips would be always fresh and red," interrupted 
Nancy. 

" Yes, I know ; you've told me before how they keep red — I 
should look at them quite steadily ; I would try never to go to 
sleep." 

"The great thing would be to have air-holes left in the 
coffin." But Nancy felt the little girl creep close to her at the 
grim suggestion, and, with the tact of love, she changed the 
subject. 

" Or supposing we could hear of a doctor who could charm 
away illness. There were such in my young days ; but I don't 
think people are so knowledgeable now. Peggy Jackson, that 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 22/ 

lived near us when I was a girl, was cured of a waste by a 
charm." 

" What is a waste, Nancy?" 

" It is just a pining away. Food does not nourish, nor drink 
strengthen them, but they just fade off, and grow thinner and 
thinner, till their shadow looks grey instead of black at noon- 
day ; but he cured her in no time by a charm." 

" Oh, if we could find him." 

" Lass, he's dead, and she's dead too, long ago." 

While Maggie was in imagination going over moor and 
fell, into the hollows of the distant mysterious hills, where she 
imagined all strange beasts and weird people to haunt, she fell 
asleep. 

Such were the fanciful thoughts which were engendered in 
the little girl's mind by her secluded and solitary life. It was 
more solitary than ever, now that Edward was gone to school. 
The house missed his loud, cheerful voice, and bursting pre- 
sence. There seemed much less to be done, now that his 
numerous wants no longer called for ministration and attend- 
ance. Maggie did her task of work on her own grey rock ; 
but as it was sooner finished, now that he was not there to 
interrupt and call her off, she used to stray up the Fell Lane at 
the back of the house — a little steep, stony lane, more like stairs 
cut in the rock than what we, in the level land, call a lane ; it 
reached on to the wide and open moor, and near its termination 
there was a knotted thorn-tree, the only tree for apparent miles. 
Here the sheep crouched under the storms, or stood and shaded 
themselves in the noontide heat. The ground was brown with 
their cleft round foot-marks ; and tufts of wool were hung on 
the lower part of the stem, like votive offerings on some shrine. 
Here Maggie used to come and sit and dream in any scarce 
half-hour of leisure. Here she came to cry, when her little 
heart was over-full at her mother's sharp fault-finding, or when 
bidden to keep out of the way, and not be troublesome. She 
used to look over the swelhng expanse of moor, and the tears 
were dried up by the soft low-blowing wind which came sighing 
along it. She forgot her little home griefs to wonder why a 
brown-purple shadow always streaked one particular part in the 
fullest sunlight ; why the cloud-shadows always seemed to be 
wafted with a sidelong motion ; or she would imagine what lay 
beyond those old grey holy hills, which seemed to bear up the 



228 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

white clouds of heaven on which the angels flew abroad. Or 
she would look straight up through the quivering air, as long as 
she could bear its white dazzling, to try and see God's throne in 
that unfathomable and infinite depth of blue. She thought she 
should see it blaze forth sudden and glorious, if she were but 
full of faith. She always came down from the thorn comforted, 
and meekly gentle. 

But there v/as danger of the child becoming dreamy, and 
finding her pleasure in life in reverie, not in action, or endurance, 
or the holy rest which comes after both, and prepares for further 
striving or bearing, Mrs. Buxton's kindness prevented this 
danger just in time. It was partly out of interest in Maggie, 
but also partly to give Erminia a companion, that she wished 
the former to come down to Combehurst. 

When she was on these visits, she received no regular instruc- 
tion ; and yet all the knowledge, and most of the strength of 
her character, was derived from these occasional hours. It is 
true her mother had given her daily lessons in reading, writing, 
and arithmetic ; but both teacher and taught felt these more as 
painful duties to be gone through than understood them as 
means to an end. The " There, child ! now that's done with," 
of relief, from Mrs. Browne, was heartily echoed in Maggie's 
breast, as the dull routine was concluded. 

Mrs. Buxton did not make a set labour of teaching. I 
suppose she felt that much was learned from her superintend- 
ence, but she never thought of doing or saying anything with 
a latent idea of its indirect effect upon the little girls, her 
companions. She was simply, herself; she even confessed 
(where the confession was called for) to shortcomings, to faults, 
and never denied the force of temptations, either of those which 
beset little children, or of those which occasionally assailed 
herself. Pure, simple, and truthful to the heart's core, her 
life, in its uneventful hours and days, spoke many homilies. 
Maggie, who was grave, imaginative, and somewhat quaint, 
took pains in finding words to express the thoughts to which 
her solitary life had given rise, secure of Mrs. Buxton's ready 
understanding and sympathy, 

"You are so like a cloud," said she to Mrs. Buxton. " Up 
at the thorn-tree, it was quite curious how the clouds used to 
shape themselves, just according as I was glad or sorry, I 
have seen the same clouds, that, when I came up first, looked 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 229 

like a heap of little snow-hillocks over babies' graves, turn, as 
soon as I grew happier, to a sort of long bright row of angels. 
And you seem always to have had some sorrow when I am 
sad, and to turn bright and hopeful as soon as I grow glad. 
Dear Mrs. Buxton ! I wish Nancy knew you." 

The gay, volatile, wilful, warm-hearted Erminia was less 
earnest in all things. Her childhood had been passed amid 
the distractions of wealth ; and passionately bent upon the 
attainment of some object at one moment, the next found her 
angry at being reminded of the vanished anxiety she had shown 
but a moment before. Her life was a shattered mirror ; every 
part dazzling and brilliant, but wanting the coherency and per- 
fection of a whole. Mrs. Buxton strove to bring her to a sense 
of the beauty of completeness, and the relation which qualities 
and objects bear to each other : but in all her striving she 
retained hold of the golden clue of sympathy. She would enter 
into Erminia's eagerness, if the object of it varied twenty times 
a day ; but, by-and-by, in her own mild, sweet, suggestive 
way, she would place all these objects in their right and fitting 
places, as they were worthy of desire. I do not know how it 
was, but all discords and disordered fragments seemed to fall 
into harmony and order before her presence. 

She had no wish to make the two little girls into the same 
kind of pattern character. They were diverse as the lily and 
the rose. But she tried to give stability and earnestness to 
Erminia ; while she aimed to direct Maggie's imagination, so 
as to make it a great minister to high ends, instead of simply 
contributing to the vividness and duration of a reverie. 

She told her tales of saints and martyrs, and all holy heroines, 
who forgot themselves, and strove only to be "ministers of 
Him, to do His pleasure." The tears glistened in the eyes of 
hearer and speaker, while she spoke in her low, faint voice, 
which was almost choked at times when she came to the noblest 
part of all. 

But when she found that Maggie was in danger of becoming 
too httle a dweller in the present, from the habit of anticipating 
the occasion for some great heroic action, she spoke of other 
heroines. She told her how, though the lives of these women 
of old were only known to us through some striking glorious 
deed, they yet must have built up the temple of their perfection 
by many noiseless stories ; how, by small daily offerings laid 



230 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

on the altar, they must have obtained their beautiful strength 
for the crowning sacrifice. And then she would turn and 
speak of those whose names will never be blazoned on earth 
— some poor maid-servant, or hard-worked artisan, or weary- 
governess — who have gone on through life quietly, with holy 
purposes in their hearts, to which they gave up pleasure and 
ease, in a soft, still, succession of resolute days. She quoted 
those lines of George Herbert's — • 

"All may have, 
If they dare choose, a glorious life, or grave." 

And Maggie's mother was disappointed because Mrs. Buxton 
had never offered to teach her "to play on the piano," which 
was to her the very head and front of a genteel education, 
Maggie, in all her time of yearning to become Joan of Arc, 
or some great heroine, was unconscious that she herself showed 
no little heroism in bearing meekly what she did every day 
from her mother. It was hard to be questioned about Mrs. 
Buxton, and then to have her answers turned into subjects for 
contempt and fault-finding with that sweet lady's ways. 

When Ned came home for the holidays, he had much to 
tell. His mother listened for hours to his tales ; and proudly 
marked all that she could note of his progress in learning. His 
copy-books and writing-flourishes were a sight to behold ; and 
his account-books contained towers and pyramids of figures. 

"Ay, ay ! " said Mr. Buxton, when tlicy were shown to him ; 
*' this is grand ! when I was a boy I could make a flying eagle 
with one stroke of my pen, but I never could do all this. And 
yet I thought myself a fine fellow, I warrant you. And these 
sums ! why, man, I must make you my agent. I need one, 
I'm sure ; for though I get an accountant every two or three 
years to do up my books, they somehow have the knack of 
getting wrong again. Those quarries, Mrs. Browne, which 
every one says are so valuable, and for the stone out of which 
I receive orders amounting to hundreds of pounds, what d'ye 
think was the profit I made last year, according to my books?" 

"I'm sure I don't know, sir; something very great, I've no 
doubt." 

"Just sevenpence three farthings," said he, bursting into a 
fit of merry laughter, such as another man would have kept 
for the announcement of enormous profits. "But I must 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 23 1 

manage things differently soon. Frank will want money when 
he goes to Oxford, and he shall have it. I'm but a rough sort 
of fellow, but Frank shall take his place as a gentleman. Aha, 
Miss Maggie ! and where's my gingerbread ? There you go, 
creeping up to Mrs. Buxton on a Wednesday, and have never 
taught cook how to make gingerbread yet. Well, Ned ! and 
how are the classics going on ? Fine fellow, that Virgil ! Let 
me see, how does it begin ? 

' Arma, virumque cano, Trojae qui primus ab oris.' " 

"That's pretty well, I think, considering I've never opened 
him since I left school, thirty years ago. To be sure, I spent 
six hours a day at it when I was there. Come, now, I'll puzzle 
you. Can you construe this ? 

' Infir dealis, inoak noneis ; inmud eelis, Inclay nonels.' " 

"To be sure I can," said Edward, with a Httle contempt in 
his tone. " Can you do this, sir? 

'Apud in is almi des ire, 
Mimis tres i neve require, 
Alo veri findit a gestis, 
His miseri ne ver at restis.' " 

But though Edward had made much progress, and gained 
three prizes, his moral training had been little attended to. He 
was more tyrannical than ever, both to his mother and Maggie. 
It was a drawn battle between him and Nancy, and they kept 
aloof from each other as much as possible. Maggie fell into 
her old humble way of submitting to his will, as long as it did 
not go against her conscience ; but that, being daily enlightened 
by her habits of pious aspiring thought, would not allow her to 
be so utterly obedient as formerly. In addition to his im- 
periousness, he had learned to affix the idea of cleverness to 
various artifices and subterfuges, which utterly revolted her by 
their meanness. 

"You are so set up, by being intimate with Erminia, that 
you won't do a thing I tell you ; you're as selfish and self-willed, 
as " he made a pause. Maggie was ready to cry. 

" I will do anything, Ned, that is right." 

" Well, and I tell you this is right." 



232 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

"How can it be?" said she sadly, almost wishing to be 
convinced. 

"How — why, it is, and that's enough for you. You must 
always have a reason for everything now. You're not half so 
nice as you were. Unless one chops logic with you, and 
convinces you by a long argument, you'll do nothing. Be 
obedient, I tell you. That is what a woman has to be." 

" I could be obedient to some people, without knowing their 
reasons, even though they told me to do silly things," said 
Maggie, half to herself. 

" I should like to know to whom," said Edward scornfully. 

"To Don Quixote," answered she seriously; for, indeed, 
lie was present in her mind just then, and his noble, tender, 
melancholy character had made a strong impression there. 

Edward stared at her for a moment, and then burst into a 
loud fit of laughter. It had the good effect of restoring him to 
a better frame of mind. He had such an excellent joke against 
his sister, that he could not be angry with her. He called her 
Sancho Panza all the rest of the holidays, though she protested 
against it, saying she could not bear the squire, and dishked 
being called by his name. 

Frank and Edward seemed to have a mutual antipathy to 
each other, and the coldness between them was rather increased 
than diminished by all Mr. Buxton's efforts to bring them 
together. " Come, Frank, my lad ! " said he, " don't be so stiff 
with Ned. His father was a dear friend of mine, and I've set 
my heart on seeing you friends. You'll have it in your power 
to help him on in the world." 

But Frank answered, " He is not quite honourable, sir. I 
can't bear a boy who is not quite honourable. Boys brought 
up at those private schools are so full of tricks ! " 

"Nay, my lad, there thou'rt wrong. I was brought up at 
a private school, and no one can say I ever dirtied my hands 
with a trick in my life. Good old Mr. Thompson would 
have flogged the life out of a boy who did anything mean or 
underhand." 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 233 



CHAPTER IV. 

Summers and winters came and went, with little to mark them, 
except the growth of the trees, and the quiet progress of young 
creatures. Erminia was sent to school somewhere in France, to 
receive more regular instruction than she could have in the 
house with her invalid aunt. But she came home once a year, 
more lovely and elegant and dainty than ever ; and Maggie 
thought, with truth, that ripening years were softening down 
her volatility, and that her aunt's dewlike sayings had quietly 
sunk deep, and fertilised the soiL That aunt was fading away. 
Maggie's devotion added materially to her happiness ; and 
both she and Maggie never forgot that this devotion was to be 
in all things subservient to the duty which she owed to her 
mother. 

"My love," Mrs. Buxton had more than once said, "you 
must always recollect that your first duty is towards your 
mother. You know how glad I am to see you ; but I shall 
always understand how it is, if you do not come. She may 
often want you when neither you nor I can anticipate it. " 

Mrs. Browne had no great wish to keep Maggie at home, 
though she hked to grumble at her going. Still she felt that it was 
best, in every way, to keep on good terms with such valuable 
friends ; and she appreciated, in some small degree, the advan- 
tage which her intimacy at the house was to Maggie. But yet 
she could not restrain a few complaints, nor withhold from her, 
on her return, a recapitulation of all the things which might 
have been done if she had only been at home, and the number 
of times that she had been wanted ; but when she found that 
Maggie quietly gave up her next Wednesday's visit as soon as 
she was made aware of any necessity for her presence at home, 
her mother left off grumbling, and took Httle or no notice of 
her absence. 

When the time came for Edward to leave school, he 
announced that he had no intention of taking orders, but 
meant to become an attorney. 

"It's such slow work," said he to his mother. "One toils 
away for four or five years, and then one gets a curacy of 
seventy pounds a year, and no end of work to do for the 
money. Now the work is not much harder in a lawyer's office, 

H 2 



234 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

and if one has one's wits about one, there are hundreds and 
thousands a year to be picked up with mighty Httle trouble." 

Mrs. Browne was very sorry for this determination. She had 
a great desire to see her son a clergyman, like his father. She 
did not consider whether his character was fitted for so sacred 
an office ; she rather thought that the profession itself, when 
once assumed, would purify the character ; but, in fact, his 
fitness or unfitness for holy orders entered little into her mind. 
She had a respect for the profession, and his father had 
belonged to it. 

"I had rather see you a curate at seventy pounds a year, 
than an attorney with seven hundred," replied she. "And you 
know your father was always asked to dine everywhere — to 
places where I know they would not have asked Mr. Bish, of 
Woodchester ; and he makes his thousand a year. Besides, 
Mr. Buxton has the next presentation to Combehurst, and you 
would stand a good chance for your father's sake. And in 
the meantime you should live here, if your curacy was any 
way near." 

" I dare say! Catch me burying myself here again. M^ 
dear mother, it's a very respectable place for you and Maggie 
to live in, and I dare say you don't find it dull ; but the idea of 
my quietly sitting down here is something too absurd 1" 

" Papa did, and was very happy," said Maggie. 

"Yes; after he had been at Oxford," replied Edward, a 
little nonplussed by this reference to one whose memory even 
the most selfish and thoughtless must have held in respect. 

" Well ; and you know you would have to go to Oxford first." 

"Maggie! I wish you would not interfere between my 
mother and me. I want to have it settled and done with, and 
that it will never be if you keep meddling. Now, mother, 
don't you see how much better it will be for me to go into Mr, 
Bish's office? Harry Bish has spoken to his father about it." 

Mrs. Browne sighed. 

"What will Mr. Buxton say?" asked she dolefully. 

"Say! Why, don't you see it was he who first put it into 
my head, by telling me, that firSt Christmas holidays, that I 
should be his agent. That would be something, would it not ? 
Harry Bish says he thinks a thousand a year might be made 
of it." 

His loud, decided, rapid talking overpowered Mrs. Browne ; 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 235 

but she resigned herself to his wishes with more regret than she 
had ever done before. It was not the first case in which fluent 
declamation has taken the place of argument. 

Edward was articled to Mr. Bish, and thus gained his point. 
There was no one with power to resist his wishes, except his 
mother and Mr. Buxton. The former had long acknowledged 
her son's will as her law; and the latter, though surprised 
and almost disappointed at a change of purpose which he had 
never anticipated in his plans for Edward's benefit, gave his 
consent, and even advanced some of the money requisite for the 
premium. 

Maggie looked upon this change with mingled feelings. She 
had always from a child pictured Edward to herself as taking 
her father's place. When she had thought of him as a man, 
it was as contemplative, grave, and gentle, as she remembered 
her father. With all a child's deficiency of reasoning power, 
she had never considered how impossible it was that a selfish, 
vain, and impatient boy could become a meek, humble, and 
pious man, merely by adopting a profession in which such 
qualities are required. But now, at sixteen, she was beginning 
to understand all this. Not by any process of thought, but 
by something more like a correct feeling, she perceived that 
Edward would never be the true minister of Christ. So, more 
glad and thankful than sorry, though sorrow mingled with 
her sentiments, she learned the decision that he was to be an 
attorney. 

Frank Buxton all this time was growing up into a young 
man. The hopes both of father and mother were bound up 
in him ; and, according to the difference in their characters 
was the difference in their hopes. It seemed, indeed, probable 
that Mr. Buxton, who was singularly void of worldliness or 
ambition for himself, would become worldly and ambitious for 
his son. His hopes for Frank were all for honour and distinc- 
tion here. Mrs. Buxton's hopes were prayers. She was fading 
away, as light fades into darkness on a summer evening'. No 
one seemed to remark the gradual progress ; but she was fully 
conscious of it herself. The last time that Frank was at home 
from college before her death, she knew that she should never 
see him again ; and when he gaily left the house, with a cheer- 
fulness which was partly assumed, she dragged herself with 
languid steps into a room at the front of the house, from which 



236 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

she could watch him down the long straggling little street, that 
led to the inn from which the coach started. As he went along, 
he turned to look back at his home ; and there he saw his 
mother's white figure gazing after him. He could not see her 
wistful eyes, but he made her poor heart give a leap of joy 
by turning round and running back for one more kiss and one 
more blessing. 

When he next came home, it was at the sudden summons of 
her death. 

His father was as one distracted. He could not speak of the 
lost angel without sudden bursts of tears, and oftentimes of self- 
upbraiding, which disturbed the calm, still, holy ideas which 
Frank liked to associate with her. He ceased speaking to him, 
therefore, about their mutual loss ; and it was a certain kind 
of relief to both when he did so ; but he longed for some one 
to whom he might talk of his mother with the quiet reverence 
of intense and trustful affection. He thought of Maggie, of 
whom he had seen but little of late ; for when he had been at 
Combehurst, she had felt that Mrs. Buxton required her pre- 
sence less, and had remained more at home. Possibly Mrs. 
Buxton regretted this ; but she never said anything. She, far- 
looking, as one who was near death, foresaw that, probably, if 
Maggie and her son met often in her sick-room, feelings might 
arise which would militate against her husband's hopes and 
plans, and which, therefore, she ought not to allow to spring 
up. But she had been unable to refrain from expressing her 
gratitude to Maggie for many hours of tranquil happiness, and 
had unconsciously dropped many sentences which made Frank 
feel that, in the little brown mouse of former years, he yas 
likely to meet with one who could tell him much of the inner 
history of his mother in her last days, and to whom he could 
speak of her without calling out the passionate sorrow which 
was so little in unison with her memory. 

Accordingly, one afternoon, late in the autumn, he rode up 
to Mrs. Browne's. The air on the heights was so still, that 
nothing seemed to stir. Now and then a yellow leaf came 
floating down from the trees, detached from no outward 
violence, but only because its life had reached its full limit, 
and then ceased. Looking down on the distant sheltered 
woods, they were gorgeous in orange and crimson, but their 
splendour was felt to be the sign of the decaying and dying 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 237 

year. Even without an inward sorrow, there was a grand 
solemnity in the season which impressed the mind, and hushed 
it into tranquil thought. Frank rode slowly along, and quietly 
dismounted at the old horse-mount, beside which there was an 
iron bridle-ring fixed in the grey stone wall. He saw the case- 
ment of the parlour-window open, and Maggie's head bent 
down over her work. She looked up as he entered the court, 
and his footsteps sounded on the flag-walk. She came round 
and opened the door. As she stood in the doorway, speaking, 
he was struck by her resemblance to some old painting. He 
had seen her young, calm face, shining out with great peace- 
fulness, and the large, grave, thoughtful eyes, giving the char- 
acter to the features which otherwise they might, from their 
very regularity, have wanted. Her brown dress had the exact 
tint which a painter would have admired. The slanting mellow 
sunlight fell upon her as she stood ; and the vine-leaves, already 
frost-tinted, made a rich, warm border, as they hung over the 
old house -door. • 

' ' Mamma is not well ; she is gone to lie down. How are 
you? How is Mr. Buxton?" 

"We are both pretty well; quite well, in fact, as far as 
regards health. May I come in? I want to talk to you, 
Maggie 1" 

She opened the little parlour-door, and they went in ; but 
for a time they were both silent. They could not speak of her 
who was with them, present in their thoughts. Maggie shut 
the casement, and put a log of wood on the fire. She sat down 
with her back to the window ; but as the flames sprang up, 
and blazed at the touch of the dry wood, Frank saw that her 
face was wet with quiet tears. Still her voice was even and 
gentle, as she answered his questions. She seemed to under- 
stand what were the very things he would care most to hear. 
She spoke of his mother's last days ; and without any word 
of praise (which, indeed, would have been impertinence), she 
showed such a just and true appreciation of her who was dead 
and gone, that he felt as if he could listen for ever to the sweet 
dropping words. They were balm to his sore heart. He had 
thought it possible that the suddenness of her death might 
have made her life incomplete, in that she might have departed 
without being able to express wishes and projects which 
would now have the sacred force of commands. But he 



238 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

found that Maggie, though she had never intruded herself as 
such, had been the depositary of many httle thoughts and 
plans ; or, if they were not expressed to her, she knew that Mr. 
Buxton or Dawson was aware of what they were, though, in 
their violence of early grief, they had forgotten to name them. 
The flickering brightness of the flame had died away ; the 
gloom of evening had gathered into the room, through the 
open door of which the kitchen fire sent a ruddy glow, 
distinctly marked against carpet and wall. Frank still sat, 
with his head buried in his hands, against the table, listening. 

" Tell me more," he said, at every pause. 

"I think I have told you all now," said Maggie, at last. 
** At least, it is all I recollect at present ; but if I think of 
anything more, I will be sure and tell you." 

" Thank you ; do." He was silent for some time. 

" Erminia is coming home at Christmas. She is not to go 
back to Paris again. She will hve with us. I hope you and she 
will be great friends, Maggie." 

" Oh yes," replied she. "I think we are already. At least 
we were last Christmas. You know it is a year since I have 
seen her." 

"Yes; she went to Switzerland with Mademoiselle Michel, 
instead of coming home the last time. Maggie, I must go 
now. My father will be waiting dinner for me." 

"Dinner! I was going to ask if you would not stay to tea. 
I hear mamma stirring about in her room. And Nancy is 
getting things ready, I see. Let me go and tell mamma. She 
will not be pleased unless she sees you. She has been very 
sorry for you all," added she, dropping her voice. 

Before he could answer, she ran upstairs. 

Mrs. Browne came down. 

"Oh, Mr. Frank! Have you been sitting in the dark? 
Maggie, you ought to have rung for candles ! Ah ! Mr. 
Frank, you've had a sad loss since I saw you here — let me see 
— in the last week of September. But she was always a sad 
invalid ; and no doubt your loss is her gain. Poor Mr. Buxton, 
too ! How is he? When one thinks of him, and of her years 
of illness, it seems like a happy release." 

She could have gone on for any length of time, but Frank 
could not bear this ruffling up of his soothed grief, and told 
her that his father was expecting him home to dinner. 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 239 

"Ah ! I am sure you must not disappoint him. He'll want 
a little cheerful company more than ever now. You must not 
let him dwell on it, Mr. Frank, but turn his thoughts another 
way by always talking of other things. I am sure if I had some 
one to speak to me in a cheerful, pleasant way, when poor dear 
Mr. Browne died, I should never have fretted after him as I did ; 
but the children were too young, and there was no one to come 
and divert me with any news. If I'd been living in Combehurst, 
I am sure I should not have let my grief get the better of me as 
I did. Could you get up a quiet rubber in the evenings, do you 
think ? " 

But Frank had shaken hands and was gone. As he rode home 
he thought much of sorrow, and the different ways of bearing it. 
He decided that it was sent by God for some holy purpose, and 
to call out into existence some higher good ; and he thought 
that if it were faithfully taken as His decree, there would be no 
passionate, despairing resistance to it ; nor yet, if it were trust- 
fully acknowledged to have some wise end, should we dare to 
baulk it, and defraud it by putting it on one side, and, by seek- 
ing the distractions of worldly things, not let it do its full work. 
And then he returned to his conversation with Maggie. That 
had been real comfort to him. What an advantage it would be 
to Erminia to have such a girl for a friend and companion ! 

It was rather strange that, having this thought, and having 
been struck, as I said, with Maggie's appearance while she stood 
in the doorway (and I may add that this impression of her un- 
obtrusive beauty had been deepened by several succeeding inter- 
views), he should reply as he did to Erminia's remark, on first 
seeing Maggie after her return from France. 

" How lovely Maggie is growing ! Why, I had no idea she 
would ever turn out pretty. Sweet-looking, she always was ; 
but now her style of beauty makes her positively distinguished. 
Frank ! speak : is not she beautiful?" 

"Do you think so?" answered he, with a kind of lazy in- 
difference, exceedingly gratifying to his father, who was listen- 
ing with some eagerness to his answer. That day, after dinner, 
Mr, Buxton began to ask his opinion of Erminia's appearance. 
Frank answered at once — 

" She is a dazzling httle creature. Her complexion looks as if 
it were made of cherries and milk ; and, it must be owned, the 
little lady has studied the art of dress to some purpose in Paris." 



240 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

Mr. Buxton was nearer happiness at this reply than he had 
ever been since his wife's death ; for the only way he could 
devise to satisfy his reproachful conscience towards his neglected 
and unhappy sister, was to plan a marriage between his son 
and her child. He rubbed his hands, and drank two extra 
glasses of wine. 

" We'll have the Brownes to dinner, as usual, next Thursday," 
said he. "I am sure your mother would have been hurt if we 
had omitted it ; it is now nine years since they began to come, 
and they have never missed one Christmas since. Do you see 
any objection, Frank ? " 

"None at all, sir," answered he. "I intend to go up to 
town soon after Christmas, for a week or ten days, on my way 
to Cambridge. Can I do anything for you?" 

"Well, I don't know. I think I shall go up myself some day 
soon. I can't understand all these lawyers* letters about the 
purchase of the Newbridge estate ; and I fancy I could make 
more sense out of it all, if I saw Mr. Hodgson." 

" I wish you would adopt my plan, of having an agent, sir. 
Your affairs are really so complicated now, that they would 
take up the time of an expert man of business. I am sure all 
those tenants at Dumford ought to be seen after." 

" I do see after them. There's never a one that dares cheat 
me, or that would cheat me if they could. Most of them have 
lived under the Buxtons for generations. They know that if 
they dared to take advantage of me, I should come down upon 
them pretty smartly." 

"Do you rely upon their attachment to your family, or on 
their idea of your severity? " 

"On both. They stand me instead of much trouble in ac- 
count-keeping, and those eternal lawyers' letters some people 
are always despatching to their tenants. When I'm cheated, 
Frank, I give you leave to make me have an agent, but not till 
then. There's my little Erminia singing away, and nobody to 
hear her." 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 24 1 



CHAPTER V. 

Christmas Day was strange and sad. Mrs. Buxton had 
always contrived to be in the drawing-room, ready to receive 
them all after dinner. Mr. Buxton tried to do away with his 
thoughts of her by much talking ; but every now and then he 
looked wistfully towards the door. Erminia exerted herself to 
be as lively as she could, in order, if possible, to fill up the 
vacuum. Edward, who had come over from Woodchester for a 
walk, had a good deal to say; and was, unconsciously, a great 
assistance with his never-ending flow of rather clever small-talk. 
His mother felt proud of her son, and his new waistcoat, which 
was far more conspicuously of the latest fashion than Frank's 
could be said to be. After dinner, when Mr. Buxton and the two 
young men were left alone, Edward launched out still more. 
He thought he was impressing Frank with his knowledge of the 
worlds and the world's ways. But he was doing all in his 
power to repel one who had never been much attracted towards 
him. Worldly success was his standard of merit. The end 
seemed with him to justify the means ; if a man prospered, it 
was not necessary to scrutinise his conduct too closely. The 
law was viewed in its lowest aspect, and yet with a certain 
cleverness, which preserved Edward from being intellectually 
contemptible. Frank had entertained some idea of studying 
for a barrister himself; not so much as a means of livelihood as 
to gain some idea of the code which makes and shows a 
nation's conscience : but Edward's details of the ways in 
which the letter so often baffles the spirit, made him recoil. 
With some anger against himself, for viewing the profession 
with disgust, because it was degraded by those who embraced 
it, instead of looking upon it as what might be ennobled and 
purified into a vast intelligence by high and pure-minded men, 
he got up abruptly and left the room. 

The girls were sitting over the drawing-room fire, with un- 
lighted candles on the table, talking, he felt, about his mother ; 
but when he came in they rose, and changed their tone. 
Erminia went to the piano, and sang her newest and choicest 
French airs. Frank was gloomy and silent ; but when she 
changed into more solemn music his mood was softened. 
Maggie's simple and hearty admiration, untinged by the 



242 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

slightest shade of envy forErminia's accomphshments, charmed 
him. The one appeared to him the perfection of elegant art, 
the other of graceful nature. When he looked at Maggie, and 
thought of the moorland home from which she had never 
wandered, the mysteriously beautiful lines of Wordsworth 
seemed to become sun-clear to him : — 

** And she shall lean her ear 
In many a secret place 

Where rivulets dance their wayward round, 
And beauty born of murmuring sound 
Shall pass into her face." 

Mr. Buxton, in the dining-room, was really getting to take 
an interest in Edward's puzzling cases. They were like tricks 
at cards. A quick motion, and out of the unpromising heap, 
all confused together, presto ! the right card turned up. 
Edward stated his case, so that there did not seem a loophole 
for the desired verdict ; but, through some conjuration, it always 
came uppermost at last. He had a graphic way of relating 
things : and, as he did not spare epithets in his designation 
of the opposing party, Mr. Buxton took it upon trust that the 
defendant or the prosecutor (as it might happen) was a " petti- 
fogging knave," or a "miserly curmudgeon," and rejoiced 
accordingly in the triumph over him gained by the ready wit 
of "our governor," Mr. Bish. At last he became so deeply 
impressed with Edward's knowledge of law, as to consult him 
about some cottage property he had in Woodchester. 

" I rather think there are twenty-one cottages, and they don't 
bring me in four pounds a year ; and out of that I have to pay 
for collecting. Would there be any chance of selling them? 
They are in Doughty Street ; a bad neighbourhood, I fear." 

"Very bad," was Edward's prompt reply. "But if you are 
really anxious to effect a sale, I have no doubt I could find a 
purchaser in a short time." 

"I should be very much obliged to you," said Mr. Buxton. 
"You would be doing me a kindness. If you meet with a 
purchaser, and can manage the affair, I would rather that you 
drew out the deeds for the transfer of the property. It would 
be the beginning of business for you ; and I only hope I should 
bring you good luck." 

Of course Edward could do this ; and when they left the 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 243. 

table, it was with a feeling on his side that he was a step 
nearer to the agency which he coveted ; and with a happy 
consciousness on Mr. Buxton's of having put a few pounds 
in the way of a deserving and remarkably clever young man. 

Since Edward had left home, Maggie had gradually, but 
surely, been gaining in importance. Her judgment and her 
untiring unselfishness could not fail to make way. Her mother 
had some respect for, and great dependence on her ; but still 
it was hardly affection that she felt for her ; or if it was, it was 
a dull and torpid kind of feeling, compared with the fond love 
and exulting pride which she took in Edward. When he came 
back for occasional holidays, his mother's face was radiant 
with happiness, and her manner towards him was even more 
caressing than he approved of. When Maggie saw him repel 
the hand that fain would have stroked his hair as in childish 
days, a longing came into her heart for some of these uncared- 
for tokens of her mother's love. Otherwise, she meekly sank 
back into her old secondary place, content to have her judg- 
ment shghted and her wishes unasked as long as he stayed. 
At times she was now beginning to disapprove and regret some 
things in him ; his flashiness of manner jarred against her 
taste ; and a deeper, graver feeling was called out by his 
evident want of quick moral perception. "Smart and clever," 
or "slow and dull," took with him the place of "right and 
wrong." Little as he thought it, he was himself narrow-minded 
and dull ; slow and blind to perceive the beauty and eternal 
wisdom of simple goodness, 

Erminia and Maggie became great friends. Erminia used 
to beg for Maggie, until she herself put a stop to the practice ; 
as she saw her mother yielded more frequently than was con- 
venient, for the honour of having her daughter a visitor at 
Mr. Buxton's, about which she could talk to her few acquaint- 
ances who persevered in caUing at the cottage. Then Erminia 
volunteered a visit of some days to Maggie, and Mrs. Browne's 
pride was redoubled ; but she made so many preparations, and 
so much fuss, and gave herself so much trouble, that she was 
positively ill during Erminia's stay ; and Maggie felt that she 
must henceforward deny herself the pleasure of having her 
friend for a guest, as her mother could not be persuaded from 
attempting to provide things in the same abundance and style 
as that to which Erminia was accustomed at home ; whereas,. 



244 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

as Nancy shrewdly observed, the young lady did not know 
if she were eating jelly, or porridge, or whether the plates were 
common delf or the best china, so long as she was with her 
dear Miss Maggie. Spring went, and summer came. Frank- 
had gone to and fro between Cambridge and Combehurst, 
drawn by motives of which he felt the force, but into which 
he did not care to examine. Edward had sold the property 
of Mr. Buxton ; and he, pleased with the possession of half 
the purchase money (the remainder of which was to be paid 
by instalments), and happy in the idea that his son came over 
so frequently to see Erminia, had amply rewarded the young 
attorney for his services. 

One summer's day, as hot as day could be, Maggie had been 
busy all morning ; for the weather was so sultry that she could 
not allow either Nancy or her mother to exert themselves much. 
She had gone down with the old brown pitcher, coeval with 
herself, to the spring for water ; and while it was trickhng, and 
making a tinkling music, she sat down on the ground. The air 
was so still that she heard the distant wood-pigeons cooing ; and 
round about her the bees were murmuring busily among the 
clustering heath. From some little touch of sympathy with 
these low sounds of pleasant harmony, she began to try and 
hum some of Erminia's airs. She never sang out loud, or put 
words to her songs ; but her voice was very sweet, and it was a 
great pleasure to herself to let it go nto music. Just as her jug 
was filled, she was startled by Frank's sudden appearance. She 
had thought he was at Cambridge, and from some cause or 
other, her face, usually so faint in colour, became the most 
vivid scarlet. They were both too conscious to speak. Maggie 
stooped (murmuring some words of surprise) to take up her 
pitcher. > 

" Don't go yet, Maggie," said he, putting his hand on hers 
to stop her ; but somehow, when that purpose was effected, he 
forgot to take it off again. ** I have come all the way from 
Cambridge to see you. I could not bear suspense any longer. 
I grew so impatient for certainty of some kind, that I went up 
to town last night, in order to feel myself on my way to you, 
even though I knew I could not be here a bit earlier to-day for 
doing so. Maggie, dear Maggie ! how you are trembhng ! 
Have I frightened you ? Nancy told me you were here ; but it 
was very thoughtless to come so suddenly upon you." 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 245 

It was not tire suddenness of his coming ; it was the sudden- 
ness of her own heart, which leaped up with the feelings called 
out by his words. She went very white, and sat down on the 
ground as before. But she rose again immediately, and stood 
with drooping, averted head. He had dropped her hand, but 
now sought to take it again. 

" Maggie, darling, may I speak?" Her hps moved, he saw, 
but he could not hear. A pang of affright ran through him 
that, perhaps, she did not wish to listen. " May I speak to 
you?" he asked again, quite .timidly. She tried to make her 
voice sound, but it would not ; so she looked round. Her soft 
grey eyes were eloquent in that one glance. And, happier than 
his words, passionate and tender as they were, could tell, he 
spoke till her trembling was changed into bright flashing blushes, 
and even a shy smile hovered about her lips, and dimpled her 
cheeks. 

The water bubbled over the pitcher unheeded. At last she 
remembered all the work-a-day world. She lifted up the jug, 
and would have hurried home, but Frank decidedly took it 
from her. 

"Henceforward," said he, "I have a right to carry your 
burdens," So with one arm round her waist, and with the 
other carrying the water, they climbed the steep turfy slope. 
Near the top she wanted to take it again. 

" Mamma will not like it. Mamma will think it so strange." 

" Why, dearest, if I saw Nancy carrying it up this slope I 
would take it from her. It would be strange if a man did not 
carry it for any woman. But you must let me tell your mother 
of my right to help you. It is your dinner-time, is it not? 
I may come in to dinner as one of the family, may not I, 
Maggie?" 

" No," she said softly. For she longed to be alone ; and she 
dreaded being overwhelmed by the expression of her mother's 
feelings, weak and agitated as she felt herself. " Not to-day." 

" Not to-day 1 " said he reproachfully. " You are very hard 
upon me. Let me come to tea. If you will, I will leave you 
now. Let me come to early tea. I must speak to my father. 
He does not know I am here. I may come to tea. At what 
time is it? Three o'clock. Oh, I know you drink tea at some 
strange early hour ; perhaps it is at two. I will take care to be 
in time." 



246 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

"Don't come till five, please. I must tell mamma; and I 
want some time to think. It does seem so like a dream. Do 
go, please." 

" Well ! if I must, I must. But I don't feel as if I were in a 
dream, but in some real blessed heaven, so long as I see you." 

At last he went. Nancy was awaiting Maggie at the side- 
gate. 

" Bless us and save us, bairn ! what a time it has taken thee 
to get the water. Is the spring dry with the hot weather?" 

Maggie ran past her. All dinner-time she heard her mother's 
voice in long-continued lamentation about something. She 
answered at random, and startled her mother by asserting that 
she thought "it" was very good — the said "it" being milk 
turned sour by thunder. Mrs. Browne spoke quite sharply : — 
' ' No one is so particular as you, Maggie. I have known you 
drink water, day after day, for breakfast, when you were a little 
girl, because your cup of milk had a drowned fly in it ; and now 
you tell me you don't care for this, and don't mind that, just as 
if you could eat up all the things which are spoiled by the heat. 
I declare my head aches so, I shall go and lie down as soon as 
ever dinner is over." 

If this was her plan, Maggie thought she had no time to lose 
in making her confession. Frank would be here before her 
mother got up again to tea. But she dreaded speaking about 
her happiness ; it seemed as yet so cobweb-like, as if a touch 
would spoil its beauty. 

" Mamma, just wait one minute. Just sit down in your chair 
while I tell you something. Please, dear mamma." She took 
a stool, and sat at her mother's feet ; and then she began to 
turn the wedding-ring on Mrs. Browne's hand, looking down 
and never speaking, till the latter became impatient. 

" What is it you have got to say, child? D5 make haste, for 
I want to go upstairs." 

With a great jerk of resolution, Maggie said — 

" Mamma, Frank Buxton has asked me to marry him." 

She hid her flice in her mother's lap for an instant ; and then 
she lifted it up, as brimful of the light of happiness as is the cup 
of a water-lily of the sun's radiance. 

"Maggie — you don't say so," said her mother half-incredu- 
lously. " It can't be, for he's at Cambridge, and it's not post- 
day. What do you mean ? " 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 247 

" He came this morning, mother, when I was down at the 
well ; and we fixed that I was to speak to you ; and he asked 
if he might come again for tea." 

"Dear! dear! and the milk all gone sour! we should have 
had milk of our own if Edward had not persuaded me against 
buying another cow." 

" I. don't think Mr. Buxton will mind it much," said Maggie, 
dimpling up, as she remembered, half-unconsciously, how^ httle 
he had seemed to care for anything but herself. 

" Why, what a thing it is for you ! " said Mrs. Browne, quite 
roused up from her languor and her headache. " Everybody 
said he was engaged to Miss Erminia. Are you quite sure you 
made no mistake, child? What did he say? Young men are 
so fond of making fine speeches, and young women are so silly 
in fancying they mean something. I once knew a girl who 
thought that a gentleman who sent her mother a present of a 
sucking pig, did it as a delicate way of making her an offer. 
Tell me his exact words." 

But Maggie blushed, and either v/ould not or could not. So 
Mrs. Browne began again — 

" Well if you're sure, you're sure. I wonder how he brought 
his father round. So long as he and Erminia have been planned 
for each other ! That very first day we ever dined there after 
your father's death, Mr. Buxton as good as told me all about 
it. I fancied they were only waiting till they were out of 
mourning." 

All this was news to Maggie. She had never thought that 
either Erminia or Frank was particularly fond of the other ; still 
less had she any idea of Mr. Buxton's plans for them. Her 
mother's surprise at her engagement jarred a little upon her, 
too ; it had become so natural, even in these last two hours, to 
feel that she belonged to him. But there were more discords to 
come. Mrs. Browne began again, half in soliloquy — 

"I should think he would have four thousand a year. He 
did not tell you, love, did he, if they had still that bad property 
in the canal, that his father complained about? But he will 
have four thousand. Why, you'll have your carriage, Maggie. 
Well ! I hope Mr. Buxton has taken it kindly, because he'll 
have a deal to do with the settlements. I'm sure I thought he 
was engaged to Erminia." 

Ringing changes on these subjects all the afternoon, Mrs. 



248 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

Browne sat with Maggie. She occasionally wandered off to 
speak about Edward, and how favourably his future prospects 
would be advanced by the engagement. 

** Let me see — there's the house in Combehurst ; the rent of 
that would be a hundred and fifty a year, but we'll not reckon 
that. But there's the quarries" (she was reckoning upon her 
fingers in default of a slate, for which she had vainly searched), 
"we'll call them two hundred a year ; for I don't believe Mr. 
Buxton's stories about their only bringing him in sevenpence ; 
and there's Newbridge, that's certainly thirteen hundred — where 
had I got to, Maggie ? '* 

" Dear mamma, do go and lie down for a little ; you look quite 
flushed," said Maggie softly. 

Was this the manner to view her betrothal to such a man as 
Frank? Her mother's remarks depressed her more than she 
could have thought it possible, the excitement of the morning 
was having its reaction, and she longed to go up to the soHtude 
under the thorn-tree, where she had hoped to spend a quiet 
thoughtful afternoon. 

Nancy came in to replace glasses and spoons in the cup- 
board. By some accident, the careful old servant broke one of 
the former. She looked up quickly at her mistress, who usually 
visited all such offences with no small portion of rebuke. 

" Never mind, Nancy," said Mrs. Browne. " It's only an old 
tumbler ; and Maggie's going to be married, and we must buy 
a new set for the wedding dinner." 

Nancy looked at both, bewildered ; at last a hght dawned 
into her mind, and her face looked shrewdly and knowingly 
back at Mrs. Browne. Then she said very quietly-^ 

* ' I think I'll take the next pitcher to the well myself, and try 
my luck. To think how sorry I was for Miss Maggie this 
morning ! ' Poor thing,' says I to myself, * to be kept all this 
time at that confounded well ' (for I'll not deny that I swear a 
bit to myself at times — it sweetens the blood), 'and she's so 
tired.' I e'en thought I'd go help her ; but I reckon she'd some 
other help. May I take a guess at the young man ? " 

"Four thousand a year, Nancy!" said Mrs. Browne exult- 
ingly. 

"And a blithe look, and a warm, kind heart, and a free step, 
and a noble way with him to rich and poor — aye, aye, I know 
the name. No need to alter all my neat M. B.'s, done in 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 249 

turkey-red cotton. Well, well, every one's turn comes some 
time, but mine's rather long a-coming." 

The faithful old servant came up to Maggie, and put her hand 
caressingly on her shoulder. Maggie threw her arms round her 
neck, and kissed the brown, withered face, 

"God bless thee, bairn," said Nancy solemnly. It brought 
the low music of peace back into the still recesses of Maggie's 
heart. She began to look out for her lover ; half-hidden behind 
the muslin window curtain, which waved gently to and fro in 
the afternoon breezes. She heard a firm, buoyant step, and 
had only time to catch one glimpse of his face before moving 
away. But that one glance made her think that the hours which 
had elapsed since she saw him had not been serene to him any 
more than to her. 

When he entered the parlour, his face was glad and bright. 
He went up in a frank, rejoicing way to Mrs. Browne, who 
was evidently rather puzzled how to receive him — whether as 
Maggie's betrothed, or as the son of the greatest man of her 
acquaintance. 

" I am sure, sir," said she, " we are all very much obliged to 
you for the honour you have done our family ! " 

He looked rather perplexed as to the nature of the honour 
which he had conferred without knowing it ; but as the light 
dawned upon him, he made answer in a frank, merry way, 
which was yet full of respect for his future mother-in-law — 

"And I am sure I am truly grateful for the honour one of 
your family has done me. " 

When Nancy brought in tea she was dressed in her fine- 
weather Sunday gown : the first time it had ever been worn out 
of church, and the walk to and fro. 

After tea, Frank asked Maggie if she would walk out with 
him, and accordingly they chmbed the Fell Lane, and went 
oui upon the moors, which seemed vast and boundless as 
their love. 

" Have you told your father?" asked Maggie ; a dim anxiety 
lurking in her heart. 

"Yes," said Frank. He did not go on, and she feared to 
ask, although she longed to know liow Mr. Buxton had received 
the intelligence. 

"What did he say?" at length she inquired. 

" Oh ! it was evidently a new idea to him that I was attached 



250 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

to you, and he does not take up a new idea speedily. He has 
had some notion, it seems, that Erminia and I were to make 
a match of it ; but she and I agreed, when we talked it over, 
that we should never have fallen in love with each other if 
there had not been another human being in the world, 
Erminia is a little sensible creature, and says she does not 
wonder at any man falling in love with you. Nay, Maggie, 
don't hang your head so down ; let me have a glimpse of 
your face." 

" I am sorry your father does not like it," said Maggie 
sorrowfully. 

"So am I. But we must give him time to get reconciled. 
Never fear but he will like it in the long run ; he has too much 
good taste and good feeling. He must like you." 

Frank did not choose to tell even Maggie how violently his 
father had set himself against their engagement. He was 
surprised and annoyed at first to find how decidedly his father 
was possessed with the idea that he was to marry his cousin, 
and that she, at any rate, was attached to him, whatever his 
feelings might be towards her ; but after he had gone frankly 
to Erminia and told her all, he found that she was as ignorant 
of her uncle's plans for her as he had been, and almost as 
glad at any event which should frustrate them. 

Indeed, she came to the moorland cottage on the following 
day, after Frank had returned to Cambridge. She had left 
her horse in charge of the groom, near the fir-trees on the 
heights, and came running down the slope in her habit, 
Maggie went out to meet her, with just a little wonder at her 
heart if what Frank had said could possibly be true, and that 
Erminia, living in the house with him, could have remained 
indifferent to him. Erminia threw her arms round her neck, 
and they sat down together on the court-steps. 

"I durst not ride down that hill, and Jem is holding my 
horse, so I may not stay very long ; now begin, Maggie, at 
once, and go into a rhapsody about Frank. Is not he a 
charming fellow ? Oh ! I am so glad. Now don't sit smiling 
and blushing there to yourself, but tell me a great deal about 
it. I have so wanted to know somebody that was in love, 
that I might hear what it was like, and the minute I could, 
I came off here. Frank is only just gone. He has had 
another long talk with my uncle, since he came back from you 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 25 1 

this morning : but I am afraid he has not made much way 
yet." 

Maggie sighed. " I don't wonder at his not thinking me 
goo.d enough for Frank." 

" No ; the difficulty would be to find any one he did think 
fit for his paragon of a son." 

" He thought 3^ou were, dearest Erminia." 

"So Frank has told you that, has he? I suppose we shall 
have no more family secrets now," said Erminia, laughing. 
" But I can assure you I had a strong rival in Lady Adela 
Castlemayne, the Duke of Wight's daughter ; she was the 
most beautiful lady my uncle had ever seen (he only saw her 
in the Grand Stand at Woodchester races, and never spoke 
a word to her in his life). And if she would have had Frank, 
my uncle would still have been dissatisfied as long as the 
Princess Victoria was unmarried ; none would have been good 
enough while a better remained. But Maggie," said she, 
smiling up into her friend's face, " I think it would have made 
you laugh, for all you look as if a kiss would shake the tears 
out of your eyes, if you could have seen my uncle's manner to 
me all day. He will have it that I am suffering from an un- 
requited attachment ; so he watched me and watched me over 
breakfast ; and at last, when I had eaten a whole nest-full of 
eggs, and I don't know how many pieces of toast, he rang the 
bell and asked for some potted charr. I was quite unconscious 
that it was for me, and I did not want it when it came ; so he 
sighed in a most melancholy manner, and said, * My poor 
Erminia ! ' If Frank had not been there, and looking dread- 
fully miserable, I am sure I should have laughed out." 

" Did Frank look miserable?" said Maggie anxiously. 

"There, now! you don't care for anything but the mention 
of his name." 

" But did he look unhappy?" persisted Maggie. 

" I can't say he looked happy, dear Mousey ; but it was quite 
different when he came back from seeing you. You know you 
always had the art of stilling any person's trouble. You and 
my Aunt Buxton are the only two I ever knew with that gift." 

" I am so sorry he has any trouble to be stilled," said 
Maggie. 

" And I think it will do him a world of good. Think how 
successful his life has been ! the honours he got at Eton ; his 



252 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

picture taken, and I don't know what ! and at Cambridge just 
the same way of going on. He would be insufferably imperious 
in a few years if he did not meet with a few crosses." 

" Imperious ! — oh, Erminia, how can you say so?" 

" Because it's the truth. He happens to have very good dis- 
positions ; and therefore his strong will is not either disagreeable 
or offensive ; but once let him become possessed by a wrong 
wish, and you would then see how vehement and imperious he 
would be. Depend upon it, my uncle's resistance is a capital 
thing for him. As dear sweet Aunt Buxton would have said, 
' There is a holy purpose in it ; ' and as Aunt Buxton would not 
have said, but as I, a ' fool, rush in where angels fear to tread,' 
I decide that the purpose is to teach Master Frank patience and 
submission." 

" Erminia— how could you help" — and there Maggie stopped. 

"I know what you mean; how could I help falling in love 
with him ? I think he has not mystery and reserve enough for 
me. I should like a man with some deep, impenetrable dark- 
ness round him ; something one could always keep wondering 
about. Besides, think what clashing of wills there would have 
been ! My uncle was very short-sighted in his plan ; but I 
don't think he thought so much about the fitness of our 
characters and ways as the fitness of our fortunes ! " 

"For shame, Erminia! No one cares less for money than 
Mr. Buxton ! " 

*' There's a good little daughter-in-law elect ! But seriously, 
I do think he's beginning to care for money ; not in the least 
for himself, but as a means of aggrandisement for Frank. I 
have observed, since I came home at Christmas, a growing 
anxiety to make the most of his property ; a thing he never 
cared about before. I don't think he is aware of it himself; 
but from one or two little things I have noticed, I should not 
wonder if he ends in being avaricious in his old age." Erminia 
sighed. 

Maggie had almost a sympathy with the father, who sought 
what he imagined to be for the good of his son, and that son, 
Frank. Although she was as convinced as Erminia that money 
could not really help any one to happiness, she could not at the 
instant resist saying — 

"Oh ! how I wish I had a fortune ! I should so like to give 
it all to him." 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 253, 

" Now, Maggie ! don't be silly ! I never heard you wish for 
anything different from what was before ; so I shall take this 
opportunity of lecturing you on your folly. No ! I won't 
either, for you look sadly tired with all your agitation ; and, 
besides, I must go, or Jem will be wondering what has become 
of me. Dearest cousin-in-law, I shall come very often to see 
you ; and perhaps I shall give you my lecture yet." 



CHAPTER VI. 

It was true of Mr. Buxton, as well as of his son, that he had 
the seeds of imperiousness in him. His life had not been such 
as to call them out into view. With more wealth than he 
required ; with a gentle wife, who if she ruled him never 
showed it, or was conscious of the fact herself; looked up to 
by his neighbours, a simple affectionate set of people, whose 
fathers had Hved near his father and grandfather in the same 
kindly relation, receiving benefits cordially given, and requiting 
them with good will and respectful attention : such had been 
the circumstances surrounding him ; and until his son grew 
out of childhood, there had not seemed a wish which he had 
it not in his power to gratify as soon as formed. Again, when 
Frank was at school and at college, all went on prosperously ; 
he gained honours enough to satisfy a far more ambitious 
father. Indeed, it was the honours he gained that stimulated 
his father's ambition. He received letters from tutors and 
headmasters, prophesying that, if Frank chose, he might rise 
to the "highest honours in Church or State;" and the idea 
thus suggested, vague as it was, remained, and filled Mr. 
Buxton's mind ; and, for the first time in his life, made him 
wish that his own career had been such as would have led 
him to form connections among the great and powerful. But, 
as it was, his shyness and gene, from being unaccustomed 
to society, had made him averse to Frank's occasional requests 
that he might bring such and such a schoolfellow, or college- 
chum, home on a visit. Now he regretted this, on account 
of the want of those connections which might thus have been 
formed ; and, in his visions, he turned to marriage as the best 



254 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

way of remedying this. Erminia was right in saying that her 
uncle had thought of Lady Adela Castlemayne for an instant ; 
though how the httle witch had found it out I cannot say, as 
the idea had been dismissed immediately from his mind. He 
was wise enough to see its utter vanity, as long as his son 
remained undistinguished. But his hope was this. If Frank 
married Erminia, their united property (she being her father's 
heiress) would justify him in standing for the shire ; or if he 
could marry the daughter of some leading personage in the 
county, it might lead to the same step ; and thus at once he 
would obtain a position in Parliament, where his great talents 
would have scope and verge enough. Of these two visions, 
the favourite one (for his sister's sake) was that of marriage 
with Erminia. 

And, in the midst of all this, fell, like a bomb-shell, the 
intelligence of his engagement with Maggie Browne ; a good, 
sv/eet little girl enough, but without fortune or connection, with- 
out, as far as Mr. Buxton know, the least power, or capability, 
or spirit, with which to help Frank on in his career to eminence 
in the land ! He resolved to consider it as a boyish fancy, 
easily to be suppressed : and pooh-poohed it down, to Frank, 
accordingly. He remarked his son's set lips, and quiet, deter- 
mined brow, although he never spoke in a more respectful tone 
than while thus steadily opposing his father. If he had shown 
more violence of manner, he would have irritated him less ; 
but, as it was, it was the most miserable interview that had 
ever taken place between the father and son. 

Mr. Buxton tried to calm himself down with believing that 
Frank would change his mind, if he saw more of the world ; 
but, somehow, he had a prophesying distrust of this idea 
internally. The worst was, there was no fault to be found 
with Maggie herself, although she might want the accomplish- 
ments he desired to see in his son's wife. Her connections, 
too, were so perfectly respectable (though humble enough in 
comparison with Mr. Buxton's soaring wishes), that there was 
nothing to be objected to on that score ; her position was 
the great offence. In proportion to his want of any reason 
but this one, for disapproving of the engagement, was his 
annoyance under it. He assumed a reserve towards Frank ; 
which was so unusual a restraint upon his open genial disposi- 
tion, that it seemed to make him irritable towards all others in 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 255 

contact with him, excepting Erminia. He found it difficult to 
behave rightly to Maggie. Like all habitually cordial persons, 
he went into the opposite extreme, when he wanted to show a 
little coolness. However angry he might be with the events of 
which she was the cause, she was too innocent and meek to 
justify him in being more than cool ; but his awkwardness was 
so great, that many a man of the world has met his greatest 
enemy, each knowing the other's hatred, with less freezing 
distance of manner than Mr. Buxton's to Maggie. While she 
went simply on in her own path, loving him the more through 
all, for old kindness' sake, and because he was Frank's father, 
he shunned meeting her with such evident and painful anxiety, 
that at last she tried to spare him the encounter, and hurried 
out of church, or lingered behind all, in order to avoid the only 
chance they now had of being forced to speak ; for she no 
longer went to the dear house in Combehurst, though Erminia 
came to see her more than ever. 

Mrs. Browne was perplexed and annoyed beyond measure. 
She upbraided Mr. Buxton to every one but Maggie. To her 
she said — "Any one in their senses might have foreseen what 
had happened, ^and would have thought well about it, before 
they went and fell in love with a young man of such expecta- 
tions as Mr. Frank. Buxton." 

In the middle of all this dismay, Edward came over from 
Woodchester for a day or two. He had been told of the 
engagement in a letter from Maggie herself; but it was too 
sacred a subject for her to enlarge upon to him ; and Mrs. 
Browne was no letter-writer. So this was his first greeting to 
Maggie, after kissing her — 

"Well, Sancho, you've done famously for yourself. As soon 
as I got your letter I said to Harry Bish — ' Still waters run 
deep ; here's my little sister Maggie, as quiet a creature as 
ever lived, has managed to catch young Buxton, who has five 
thousand a year if he's a penny.' Don't go so red, Maggie. 
Harry was sure to hear of it soon from some one, and I see no 
use in keeping it secret, for it gives consequence to us all." 

"Mr. Buxton is quite put out about it," said Mrs. Browne 
querulously ; "and I'm sure he need not be, for he's enough of 
money, if that's what he wants ; and Maggie's father was a 
clergyman, and I've seen 'yeoman,' with my own eyes, on old 
Mr. Buxton's (Mr. Lawrence's father's) carts ; and a clergyman 



256 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

is above a yeoman any day. But if Maggie had had any 
thought for other people, she'd never have gone and engaged 
herself, when she might have been sure it would give offence. 
We are never asked down to dinner now. I've never broken 
bread there since last Christmas." 

"Whew," said Edward to this. It was a disappointed 
whistle : but he soon cheered up. " I thought I could have 
lent a hand in screwing old Buxton up about the settlements ; 
but I see it's not come to that yet. Still, I'll go and see the old 
gentleman. I'm a bit of a favourite of his, and I've no doubt I 
can turn him round." 

" Pray, Edward, don't go," said Maggie. " Frank and I are 
content to wait ; and I'm sure we would rather not have any 
one speak to Mr. Buxton upon a subject which evidently gives 
him so much pain ; please, Edward, don't ! " 

"Well, well. Only I must go about this property of his. 
Besides, I don't mean to get into disgrace ; so I shan't seem to 
know anything about it, if it would make him angry. I want 
to keep on good terms, because of the agency. So, perhaps, I 
shall shake my head, and think it great presumption in you, 
Maggie, to have thought of becoming his daughter-in-law. If 
I can do you no good, I may as well do myself some." 

" I hope you won't mention me at all," she replied. 

One comfort (and almost the only one arising from Edward's 
visit) was, that she could now often be spared to go up to the 
thorn-tree, and calm down her anxiety, and bring all discords 
into peace, under the sweet influences of nature. Mrs. Buxton 
had tried to teach her the force of the lovely truth, that the 
"melodies of the everlasting chime" may abide in the hearts 
of those who ply their daily task in towns and crowded 
populous places ; and that solitude is not needed by the faithful 
for them to feel the immediate presence of God ; nor utter 
stillness of human sound necessary, before they can hear the 
music of His angel's footsteps : but, as yet, her soul was a 
young disciple ; and she felt it easier to speak to Him, and 
come to Him for help, sitting lonely, with wild moors swelling 
and darkening around her, and not a creature in sight but the 
white specks of distant sheep, and the birds that shun the 
haunts of men, floating in the still mid-air. 

She sometimes longed to go to Mr. Buxton and tell him how 
much she could sympathise with him, if his dislike to her 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 257 

engagement arose from his thinking her unworthy of his son. 
Frank's character seemed to her grand in its promise. With 
vehement impulses, and natural gifts, craving v^^orthy employ- 
ment, his will sat supreme over all, like a young emperor 
calmly seated on his throne, whose fiery generals and wise 
counsellors stand alike ready to obey him. But if marriage 
were to be made by due measurement and balance of char- 
acter, and if others, with their scales, were to be the judges, 
what would become of all the beautiful services rendered by the 
loyalty of true love? Where would be the raising up of the 
weak by the strong ? or the patient endurance ? or the gracious 
trust of her — 

" Whose faith is fixt and cannot move ; 
She darkly feels him great and wise, 
She dwells on him with faithful eyes, 
' I cannot understand : I love.' " 



Edward's manners and conduct caused her more real anxiety 
than anything else. Indeed, no other thoughtfulness could be 
called anxiety compared to this. His faults, she could not but 
perceive, were strengthening with his strength, and growing 
with his growth. She could not help wondering whence he 
obtained the money to pay for his dress, which she thought was 
of a very expensive kind. She heard him also incidentally 
allude to "runs up to town," of which, at the time, neither she 
nor her mother had been made aware. He seemed confused 
when she questioned him about these, although he tried to 
laugh it off; and asked her how she, a country girl, cooped up 
among one set of people, could have any idea of the life it was 
necessary for a man to lead who " had any hope of getting on 
in the world." He must have acquaintances and connections, 
and see something of life, and make an appearance. She was 
silenced, but not satisfied. Nor was she at ease with regard to 
his health. He looked ill, and worn ; and, when he was not 
rattling and laughing, his face fell into a shape of anxiety and 
uneasiness which was new to her in it. He reminded her 
painfully of an old German engraving she had seen in Mrs. 
Buxton's portfolio, called, "Pleasure digging a Grave ;" Pleasure 
being represented by a ghastly figure of a young man, eagerly 
industrious over his dismal work. 

I 



258 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

A few days after he went away, Nancy came to her in her 
bedroom. 

" Miss Maggie," said she, " may I just speak a word ? " But 
when the permission was given, she hesitated. 

"It's none of my business, to be sure," said she at last: 
" only, you see, I've lived with your mother ever since she was 
married ; and I care a deal for both you and Master Edward. 
And I think he drains Missus of her money ; and it makes me 
not easy in my mind. You did not know of it, but he had his 
father's old watch when he was over last time but one ; I 
thought he was of an age to have a watch, and that it was 
all natural. But, I reckon, he's sold it, and got that gimcrack 
one instead. That's, perhaps, natural too. Young folks like 
young fashions. But, this time, I think he has taken away 
your mother's watch ; at least, I've never seen it since he went. 
And this morning she spoke to me about my wages. I'm sure 
I've never asked for them, nor troubled her ; but I'll own it's 
now near on to twelve months since she paid me ; and she 
was as regular as clock-work till then. Now, Miss Maggie, 
don't look so sorry, or I shall wish I had never spoken. Poor 
Missus seemed sadly put about, and said something as I did not 
try to hear ; for I was so vexed she should think I needed 
apologies, and them sort of things. I'd rather live with you 
without wage than have her look so shame-faced as she did this 
morning. I don't want a bit for money, my dear ; I've a deal 
in the bank. But I'm afeard Master Edward is spending too 
much, and pinching Missus." 

Maggie was very sorry indeed. Her mother had never told 
her anything of all this, so it was evidently a painful subject to 
her ; and Maggie determined (after lying awake half the night) 
that she would write to Edward, and remonstrate with him ; 
and that in every personal and household expense, she would 
be, more than ever, rigidly economical. 

The full, free, natural intercourse between her lover and 
herself could not fail to be checked by Mr. Buxton's aversion 
to the engagement. Frank came over for some time in the 
early autumn. He had left Cambridge, and intended to enter 
hJmself at the Temple as soon as the vacation was ended. He 
had not been very long at home before Maggie was made 
aware, partly through Erminia, who had no notion of discreet 
silence on any point, and partly by her own observation, of the 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 259 

increasing estrangement between father and son. Mr. Buxton 
was reserved with Frank for the first time in his Hfe ; and 
Frank was depressed and annoyed at his father's obstinate 
repetition of the same sentence, in answer to all his argu- 
ments in favour of his engagement — arguments which were 
overwhelming to himself, and which it required an effort of 
patience on his part to go over and recapitulate, so obvious was 
the conclusion : and then to have the same answer for ever, the 
same words even — 

" Frank ! it's no use talking. I don't approve of the engage- 
ment ; and never shall." 

He would snatch up his hat, and hurry off to Maggie to be 
soothed. His father knew where he was gone without being 
told ; and was jealous of her influence over the son who had 
long been his first and paramount object in life. 

He needed not have been jealous. However angry and indig- 
nant Frank was when he went up to the moorland cottage, 
Maggie almost persuaded him, before half-an-hour had elapsed, 
that his father was but unreasonable from his extreme affection. 
Still she saw that such frequent differences would weaken the 
bond between father and son ; and, accordingly, she urged 
Frank to accept an invitation into Scotland. 

"You told me," said she, " that Mr. Buxton will have it, it is 
but a boy's attachment ; and that when you have seen other 
people, you will change your mind ; now do try how far you can 
stand the effects of absence," She said it playfully, but he was 
in a humour to be vexed. 

"What nonsense, Maggie ! You don't care for all this delay 
yourself ; and you take up my father's bad reasons as if you 
beheved them." 

"I don't beheve them ; but still they may be true." 

" How should you like it, Maggie, if I urged you to go about 
and see something of society, and try if you could not find some 
one you liked better ? It is more probable in your case than in 
mine ; for you have never been from home, and I have been 
half over Europe." 

"You are very much afraid, are not you, Frank?" said she, 
her face bright with blushes, and her grey eyes smihng^ 
lip at him. "I have a great idea that if I could see that 
Harry Bish that Edward is always talking about, I should 
be charmed. He must wear such beautiful waistcoats ! Don't 



26o THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

you think I had better see him before our engagement is quite, 
quite final?" 

But Frank would not smile. In fact, like all angry persons, 
he found fresh matter for offence in every sentence. She did not 
consider the engagement as quite final : thus he chose to under- 
stand her playful speech. He would not answer. She spoke 
again — 

"Dear Frank, you are not angry with me, are you? It is 
nonsense to think that we are to go about the world, picking 
and choosing men and women, as if they were fruit, and we 
were to gather the best ; as if there was not something in our 
own hearts which, if we listen to it conscientiously, will tell 
us at once when we have met the one of all others. There 
now, am I sensible? I suppose I am, for your grim features 
are relaxing into a smile. That's right. But now listen to 
this. I think your father would come round sooner, if he were 
not irritated every day by the knowledge of your visits to me. 
If you went away, he would know that we should write to 
each other, yet he would forget the exact time when ; but now 
he knows as well as I do where you are when you are up 
here ; and I fancy, from what Erminia says, it makes him 
angry the whole time you are away." 

Frank was silent. At last he said — "It is rather provoking 
to be obhged to acknowledge that there is some truth in what 
you say. But even if I would, I am not sure that I could go. 
My father does not speak to me about his affairs, as he used to 
do ; so I was rather surprised yesterday to hear him say to 
Erminia (though I'm sure he meant the information for me) 
that he had engaged an agent." 

" Then there will be the less occasion for you to be at home. 
He won't want your help in his accounts." 

"I've given him little enough of that. I have long wanted 
him to have somebody to look after his affairs. They are very 
compHcated, and he is very careless. But I believe my sig- 
nature will be wanted for some new leases ; at least he told 
me so." 

" That need not take you long," said Maggie. 

"Not the mere signing. But I want to know something 
more about the property and the proposed tenants. I believe 
this Mr. Henry that my father has engaged is a very hard sort 
of man. He is what is called scrupulously honest and honour* 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 26 1 

able ; but I fear a little too much inclined to drive hard bar- 
gains for his client. Now I want to be convinced to the 
contrary, if I can, before I leave my father in his hands. So, 
you cruel judge, you won't transport me yet, will you? " 

" No," said Maggie, overjoyed at her own decision, and 
blushing her dehght that her reason was convinced it was right 
for Frank to stay a little longer. 

The next day's post brought her a letter from Edward. 
There was not a word in it about her inquiry or remonstrance ; 
it might never have been written, or never received ; but a 
few hurried, anxious lines, asking her to write by return of 
post, and say if it was really true that Mr. Buxton had engaged 
an agent. "It's a confounded shabby trick if he has, after 
what he said to me long ago. I cannot tell you how much I 
depend on your complying with my request. Once more, 
write directly. If Nancy cannot take the letter to the post, 
run down to Combehurst with it yourself. I must have an 
answer to-morrow, and every particular as to who, when to be 
appointed, &c. But I can't believe the report to be true." 

Maggie asked Frank if she might name what he had told 
her the day before to her brother. He said — 

"Oh, yes, certainly, if he cares to know. Of course, you 
will not say anything about my own opinion of Mr. Henry. 
He is coming to-morrow, and I shall be able to judge how far 
I am ri^ht." 



CHAPTER VII. 

The next day Mr. Henry came. He was a quiet, stern- ■ 
looking man, of considerable intelligence and refinement, and 
so much taste for music as to charm Erminia, who had rather 
dreaded his visit. But all the amenities of life were put aside 
when he entered Mr. Buxton's sanctum — his "office," as he 
called the room where he received his tenants and business- 
people. Frank thought Mr. Henry was scarce commonly 
civil in the open evidence of his surprise and contempt for 
the habits, of which the disorderly books and ledgers were 
but too visible signs. Mr. Buxton himself felt more like a 
schoolboy, bringing up an imperfect lesson, than he had ever 
done since he was thirteen. 



262 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

" The only wonder, my good sir, is that you have any 
property left ; that you have not been cheated out of every 
farthing." 

"I'll answer for it," said Mr. Buxton in reply, "that you'll 
not find any cheating has been going on. They dared not, 
sir ; they know I should make an example of the first rogue I 
found out." 

Mr. Henry lifted up his eyebrows, but did not speak. 

"Besides, sir, most of these men have lived for genera- 
tions under the Buxtons. I'd give you my life, they would not 
cheat me." 

Mr. Henry coldly said — 

"I imagine a close examination of these books by some 
accountant will be the best proof of the honesty of these said 
tenants. If you will allow me, I will write to a clever fellow 
I know, and desire him to come down and try and regulate 
this mass of papers." 

"Anything — anything you like," said Mr. Buxton, only too 
glad to escape from the lawyer's cold, contemptuous way of 
treating the subject. 

The accountant came ; and he and Mr. Henry were deeply 
engaged in the office for several days. Mr. Buxton was be- 
wildered by the questions they asked him. Mr. Henry exa- 
mined him in the worrying way in which an unwilhng witness 
is made to give evidence. Many a time and oft did he heartily 
wish he had gone on in the old course to the end of his life, 
instead of putting himself into an agent's hands ; but he 
comforted himself by thinking that, at any rate, they would 
be convinced he had never allowed himself to be cheated or 
imposed upon, although he did not make any parade of exac- 
titude. 

What was his dismay when, one morning, Mr. Henry sent 
to request his presence, and, with a cold, clear voice, read 
aloud an admirably drawn-up statement, informing the poor 
landlord of the defalcations, nay more, the impositions of those 
whom he had trusted. If he had been alone, he would have 
burst into tears, to find how his confidence had been abused. 
But, as it was, he became passionately angry. 

"I'll prosecute them, sir. Not a man shall escape. I'll 
make them pay back every farthing, I will. And damages, 
too. Crayston, did you say, sir ? Was that one of the names ? 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 263 

Wliy, that is the very Crayston who was bailiff under my father 
for years. The scoundrel ! And I set him up in my best farm 
when he married. And he's been swindling me, has he?" 

Mr. Henry ran over the items of the account — " ^^421, 13s. 
4Jd. Part of this, I fear, we cannot recover " 

He was going on, but Mr. Buxton broke in — "But I will 
recover it. I'll have every farthing of it. I'll go to law with 
the viper. I don't care for money, but I hate ingratitude. ' 

"If you like, I will take counsel's opinion on the case," said 
Mr. Henry coolly. 

" Take anything you please, sir. Why, this Crayston was the 
first man that set me on a horse — and to think of his cheating me ! " 

A few days after this conversation, Frank came on his usual 
visit to Maggie. 

"Can you come up to the thorn-tree, dearest?" said he. 
" It is a lovely day, and I want the solace of a quiet hour's talk 
with you." 

So they went, and sat in silence some time, looking at the 
calm and still blue air about the summits of the hills, where 
never tumult of the world came to disturb the peace, and the 
quiet of whose heights was never broken by the loud, passionate 
cries of men. 

" I am glad you like my thorn-tree," said Maggie. 

" I like the view from it. The thought of the solitude which 
must be among the hollows of those hills pleases me parti- 
cularly to-day. Oh, Maggie ! it is one of the times when I get 
depressed about men and the world. We have had such 
sorrow, and such revelations, and remorse, and passion at home 
to-day. Crayston (my father's old tenant) has come over. It 
seems — I am afraid there is no doubt of it — he' has been 
peculating to a large amount. My father has been too care- 
less, and has placed his dependants in great temptation : and 
Crayston — he is an old man, with a large extravagant family — 
has yielded. He has been served with notice of my father's 
intention to prosecute him ; and came over to confess all, and 
ask for forgiveness, and time to pay back what he could. A 
month ago, my father would have listened to him, I think; 
but now, he is stung by Mr. Henry's sayings, and gave way to 
a furious passion. It has been a most distressing morning. 
The worst side of everybody seems to have come out. Even 
Crayston, with all his penitence and appearance of candour, : 



264 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

had to be questioned closely by Mr. Henry before he would tell 
the whole truth. Good God ! that money should have such 
power to corrupt men. It was all for money and money's 
worth, that this degradation has taken place. As for Mr. 
Henry, to save his client money, and to protect money, he 
does not care — he does not even perceive — how he induces de- 
terioration of character. He has been encouraging my father 
in measures which I cannot call anything but vindictive. 
Crayston is to be made an example of, they say. As if my 
father had not half the sin on his own head ! As if he had 
rightly discharged his duties as a rich man ! Money was as 
dross to him ; but he ought to have remembered how it might 
be as life itself to many, and be craved after, and coveted, 
till the black longing got the better of principle, as it has done 
with this poor Crayston. They say the man was once so 
truthful, and now his self-respect is gone ; and he has evidently 
lost the very nature of truth. I dread riches. I dread the 
responsibility of them. At any rate, I wish I had begun life 
as a poor boy, and worked my way up to competence. Then 
I could understand and remember the temptations of poverty. 
I am afraid of my own heart becoming hardened as my father's 
is. You have no notion of his passionate severity to-day, 
Maggie ! It was quite a new thing, even to me ! " 

" It will only be for a short time," said she. " He must be 
much grieved about this man." 

" If I thought I could ever grow as hard and indifferent to 
the abject entreaties of a criminal as my father has been this 
morning — one whom he has helped to make, too — I would 
go off to Australia at once. Indeed, Maggie, I think it would 
be the best thing we could do. My heart aches about the 
mysterious corruptions and evils of an old state of society such 
as we have in England. What do you say, Maggie ? Would 
you go ? " 

She was silent— thinking. 

" I would go with you directly, if it were right," said she 
at last. "But would it be? I think it would be rather 
cowardly. I feel what you say ; but don't you think it would 
be braver to stay, and endure much depression and anxiety 
of mind for the sake of the good those always can do who see 
evils clearly? I am speaking all this time as if neither you nor I 
had any home duties, but were free to do as we liked." 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 265 

*'What can you or I do? We are less than drops in the 
ocean, as far as our influence can go to re-model a nation." 

"As for that," said Maggie, laughing, "I can't re-model 
Nancy's old-fashioned ways ; so I've never yet planned how- 
to re-model a nation." 
^ "Then what did you mean by the good those always can 
do who see evils clearly? The evils I see are those of a nation 
whose god is money." 

"That is just because you have come away from a distress- 
ing scene. To-morrow you will hear or read of some heroic 
action meeting with a nation's sympathy, and you will rejoice 
and be proud of your country." 

"Still I shall feel the evils of her complex state of society 
keenly : and where is the good I can do?" 

" Oh ! I can't tell in a minute. But cannot you bravely face 
these evils, and learn their nature and causes ; and then has 
God given you no powers to apply to the discovery of their 
remedy? Dear Frank, think! It may be very little you can 
do — and you may never see the effect of it, any more than the 
widow saw the world-wide effect of her mite. Then, if all the 
good and thoughtful men run away from us to some new 
country, what are we to do with our poor, dear old England ?" 

"Oh, you must run away with the good thoughtful men (I 
mean to consider that as a compliment to myself, Maggie !). 
Will you let me wish I had been born poor, if I am to stay in 
England? I should not then be hable to this fault into which 
I see the rich men fall, of forgetting the trials of the poor." 

"I am not sure whether, if you had been poor, ycu might 
not have fallen into an exactly parallel fault, and forgotten the 
trials of the rich. It is so difficult to understand the errors into 
which their position makes all men liable to fall. Do you 
remember a story in "Evenings at Home" called the Trans- 
migrations of Indra? Well ! when I was a child, I used to 
wish I might be transmigrated (is that the right word?) into 
an American slave-owner for a little while, just that I might 
understand how he must suffer, and be sorely puzzled, and pray 
and long to be freed from his odious wealth, till at last he 
grew hardened to its nature ; and since then, I have wished 
to be the Emperor of Russia for the same reason. Ah ! you 
may laugh ; but that is only because I have not explained 
myself properly." 

I 2 



266 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

"I was only smiling to think how ambitious any one might 
suppose you were who did not know you." 

" I don't see any ambition in it — I don't think of the station — 
I only want sorely to see the 'What's resisted' of Burns, in 
order that I may have more charity for those who seem to me to 
have been the cause of such infinite woe and misery." 

" Wliat's done we partly may compute ; 
But know not what's resisted," 

repeated Frank musingly. After some time he began again — 

"But, Maggie, I don't give up this wish of mine to go to 
Australia — Canada, if you like it better— anywhere where there 
is a newer and purer state of society." 

"The great objection seems to be your duty, as an only 
child, to your father. It is different to the case of one out of a 
large family." 

"I wish I were one in twenty, then I might marry where I 
liked to-rnorrow." 

" It would take two people's consent to such a rapid measure," 
said Maggie, laughing. " But now I am going to wish a wish, 
which it won't require a fairy godmother to gratify. Look, Frank, 
do you see in the middle of that dark brown purple streak of 
moor a yellow gleam of light? It is a pond, I think, that at 
this time of the year catches a slanting beam of the sun. It 
can't be very far off. I have wished to go to it every autumn. 
Will you go with me now? We shall have time before tea." 

Frank's dissatisfaction with the stern measures that, urged 
on by Mr. Henry, his father took against all who had imposed 
upon his carelessness as a landlord, increased rather than 
diminished. He spoke warmly to him on the subject, but 
without avail. He remonstrated with Mr. Henry, and told 
him how he felt that, had his father controlled his careless 
nature, and been an exact, vigilant landlord, these tenantry 
would never have had the great temptation to do him wrong ; 
and that therefore he considered some allowance should be 
made for thejn, and some opportunity given them to redeem 
their characters, which would be blasted and hardened for ever 
by the publicity of a lawsuit. But Mr. Henry only raised his 
eyebrows and made answer-^ 

"I like to see these notions in a young man, sir. I had 
them myself at your age. I believe I had great ideas then on 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 267 

the subject of temptation and the force of circumstances ; and 
was as Quixotic as any one about reforming rogues. But my 
experience has convinced me that roguery is innate. Nothing 
but outward force can control it, and keep it within bounds. 
The terrors of the law must be that outward force. I admire 
your kindness of heart ; and in three-and-twenty we do not look 
for the wisdom and experience of forty or fifty." 

Frank was indignant at being set aside as an unripe youth. 
He disapproved so strongly ^of all these measures, and of so 
much that was now going on at home under Mr. Henry's 
influence, that he determined to pay his long-promised visit 
to Scotland ; and Maggie, sad at heart to see how he was 
suffering, encouraged him in his determination. 



CHAPTER Vni. 

After he was gone, there came a November of the most dreary 
and characteristic kind. There was incessant rain, and closing- 
in mists," without a gleam of sunshine to light up the drops of 
water, and make the wet stems and branches of the trees 
glisten. Every colour seemed dimmed and darkened ; and the 
crisp autumnal glory of leaves fell soddened to the ground. 
The latest flowers rotted away without ever coming to their 
bloom ; and it looked as if the heavy monotonous sky had 
drawn closer aiid closer, and shut in the little moorland cottage 
as with a shroud. Indoors, things were no more' cheerful. 
Maggie saw that her mother was depressed, and she thought 
that Edward's extravagance must be the occasion. Oftentimes 
she wondered how far she might speak on the subject ; and 
once or twice she drew near it in conversation ; but her mother 
winced away, and Maggie could not as yet see any decided 
good to be gained from encountering such pain. To herself it 
would have been a relief to have known the truth — the worst, 
as far as her mother knew it ; but she was not in the habit of 
thinking of herself. She only tried, by long tender attention, to 
cheer and comfort her mother ; and she and Nancy strove in 
every way to reduce the household expenditure, for there was 
little ready money to meet it. Maggie wrote regularly to 
Edward ; but since the note inquiring about the agency, she 



268 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

had never heard from liim. Whether her mother received 
letters she did not know ; but at any rate she did not express 
anxiety, though her looks and manner betrayed that she was ill 
at ease. It was almost a relief to Maggie when some change 
was given to her thoughts by Nancy's becoming ill. The damp 
gloomy weather brought on some kind of rheumatic attack, 
which obhged the old servant to keep her bed. Formerly, in 
such an emergency, they would have engaged some cottager's 
wife to come and do the house-work ; but now it seemed tacitly 
understood that they could not afford it. Even when Nancy 
grew worse, and required attendance in the night, Maggie still 
persisted in her daily occupations. She was wise enough to rest 
when and how she could ; and, with a little forethought, she 
hoped to be able to go through this weary time without any 
bad effect. One morning (it was on the second of December ; 
and even the change of name in the month, although it brought 
no change of circumstances or weather, was a relief — December 
brought glad tidings, even in its very name) — one morning, dim 
and dreary, Maggie had looked at the clock on leaving Nancy's 
room, and finding it was not yet half-past five, and knowing 
that her mother and Nancy were both asleep, she determined 
to he down and rest for an hour before getting up to light the 
fires. She did not mean to go to sleep ; but she was tired out, 
and fell into a sound slumber. When she awoke it was with a 
start. It was still dark ; but she had a clear idea of being 
wakened by some distinct, rattling noise. There it was once 
more — against the window, like a shower of shot. She went to 
the lattice, and opened it to look out. She had that strange 
consciousness, not to be described, of the near neighbourhood 
of some human creature, although she neither saw nor heard 
any one for the first instant. Then Edward spoke in a hoarse 
whisper, right below the window, standing on the flower-beds — ■ 

" Maggie ! Maggie ! Come down and let me in. For your 
life, don't make any noise. No one must know." 

Maggie turned sick. Something was wrong, evidently ; and 
she was weak and weary. However, she stole down the old 
creaking stairs, and undid the heavy bolt, and let her brother 
in. She felt that his dress was quite wet, and she led him, 
with cautious steps, into the kitchen, and shut the door, and 
stirred the fire, before she spoke. He sank into a chair, as if 
worn out with fatigue. She stood, expecting some explanation. 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 269 

But when she saw he could not speak, she hastened to make 
him a cup of tea ; and, stooping down, took off his wet boots, 
and helped him off with his coat, and brought her own plaid 
to wrap round him. All this time her heart sunk lower and 
lower. He allowed her to do what she liked, as if he were an 
automaton ; his head and his arms hung loosely down, and his 
eyes were fixed, in a glaring way, on the fire. When she 
brought him some tea, he spoke for the first time ; she could 
not hear what he said till he repeated it, so husky was his 
voice — 

" Have you no brandy?" 

She had the key of the little wine-cellar, and fetched up some. 
But as she took a tea-spoon to measure it out, he tremblingly 
clutched at the bottle, and shook down a quantity into the 
empty tea-cup, and drank it off at one gulp. He fell back 
again in his chair ; but in a few minutes he roused himself, 
and seemed stronger. 

"Edward, dear Edward, what is the matter?" said Maggie 
at last ; for he got up, and was staggering towards the outer 
door, as if he were going once more into the rain and dismal 
morning-twilight. 

He looked at her fiercely, as she laid her hand on his arm. 

" Confound you ! Don't touch me. I'll not be kept here, to 
be caught and hung ! " 

For an instant she thought he was mad. 

"Caught and hung!" she echoed. "My poor Edward! 
what do you mean ? " 

He sat down suddenly on a chair close by him, and covered 
his face with his hands. When he spoke, his voice was feeble 
and imploring. 

' ' The police are after me, Maggie ! What must I do ? Oh I 
can you hide me ? Can you save me ? " 

He looked wild, hke a hunted creature. Maggie stood 
aghast. He went on — 

* ' My mother ! — Nancy ! Where are they ? I was wet through 
and starving, and I came here. Don't let them take me, Maggie, 
till I'm stronger and can give battle." 

"Oh! Edward! Edward! What are you saying?" said 
Maggie, sitting down on the dresser, in absolute, bewildered 
despair. " What have you done ? " 

"I hardly know. I'm in a horrid dream. I see you think 



270 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

I'm mad ; I wish I were. Won't Nancy come down soon ? 
You must hide me." 

" Poor Nancy is ill in bed ! " said Maggie. 

"Thank God," said he. " There's one less. But my mother 
will be up soon, will she not?" 

" Not yet," replied Maggie. " Edward, dear, do try and tell 
me what you have done. Why should the police be after you ? " 

"Why, Maggie," said he, with a kind of forced, unnatural 
laugh, " they say I've forged." 

"And have you?" asked Maggie, in a still, low tone of quiet 
agony. 

He did not answer for some time, but sat, looking on the 
floor with unwinking eyes. At last he said, as if speaking to 
himself — 

" If I have, it's no more than others have done before, and 
never been found out. I was but borrowing money. I meant 
to repay it. If I had asked Mr, Buxton, he would have lent 
it me." 

" Mr. Buxton ! " said Maggie. 

"Yes!" answered he, looking sharply and suddenly up at 
her. "Your future father-in-law. My father's old friend. It 
is he that is hunting me to death ! No need to look so white 
and horror-struck, Maggie ! It's the way of the world, as I 
might have known, if I had not been a blind fool." 

" Mr. Buxton ! " she whispered faintly. 

"Oh, Maggie!" said he, suddenly throwing himself at her 
feet, "save me! You can do it. Write to Frank, and make 
him induce his father to let me off. I came to see you, my 
sweet, merciful sister ! I knew you would save me. Good 
God ! What noise is that ? There are steps in the yard ! " 

And before she could speak, he had rushed into the little 
china closet, which opened out of the parlour, and crouched 
down in the darkness. It was only the man who brought their 
morning's supply of milk from a neighbouring farm. But 
when Maggie opened the kitchen door, she saw how the cold, 
pale light of a winter's day had filled the air. 

"You're late with your shutters to-day, miss," said the man. 
'*! hope Nancy has not been giving you all a bad night. 
S^ys I to Thomas, who came with me to the gate, ' It's many 
a year since I saw them parlour shutters barred up at half-past 
eight.' " 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 27'I 

Maggie went, as soon as he was gone, and opened all the 
low windows, in order that they might look as usual. She 
wondered at her own outward composure, while she felt so 
dead and sick at heart. Her mother would soon get up ; must 
she be told? Edward spoke to her now and then from his 
hiding-place. He dared not go back into the kitchen, into 
which the few neighbours they had were apt to come, on their 
morning's way to Combehurst, to ask if they could do any 
errands there for Mrs. Browne or Nancy. Perhaps a quarter 
of an hour or so had elapsed since the first alarm, when, as 
Maggie was trying to light the parlour fire, in order that the 
doctor, when he came, might find all as usual, she heard the 
click of the garden gate, and a man's step coming along the 
walk. She ran upstairs to wash away the traces of the tears 
which had been streaming down her face as she went about 
her work, before she opened the door. There, against the 
watery light of the rainy day without, stood Mr. Buxton. He 
hardly spoke to her, but pushed past her, and entered the 
parlour. He sat down, looking as if he did not know what 
he was doing. Maggie tried to keep down her shivering alarm. 
It was long since she had seen him ; and the old idea of his 
kind, genial, disposition, had been sadly disturbed by what she 
had heard from Frank, of his severe proceedings against his 
unworthy tenantry ; and now, if he was setting the police in 
search of Edward, he was indeed to be dreaded ; and with 
Edward so close at hand, within earshot ! If the china fell ! 
He would suspect nothing from that ; it would only be her 
own terror. If her mother came down ! But, with all these 
thoughts, she was very still, outwardly, as she sat waiting for 
him to speak. 

"Have you heard from your brother lately?" asked he, 
looking up in an angry and disturbed manner. "But I'll 
answer for it, he has not been writing home for some time. 
He could not, with the guilt he has had on his mind. I'll not 
believe in gratitude again. There perhaps was such a thing 
once ; but nowadays the more you do for a person, the surer 
they are to turn against you, and cheat you. Now, don't go 
white and pale. I know you're a good girl in the main ; and 
I've been lying awake all night, and I've a deal to say to you. 
That scoundrel of a brother of yours ! " 

Maggie could not ask (as would have been natural, if she had 



272 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

been ignorant) what Edward had done. She knew too well. 
But Mr. Buxton was too full of his own thoughts and feelings 
to notice her much. 

"Do you know he has been like the rest? Do you know 
he has been cheating me — forging my name? I don't know 
what besides. It's well for him that they've altered the laws, 
and he can't be hung for it " (a dead heavy weight was removed 
from Maggie's mind), "but Mr. Henry is going to transport 
him. It's worse than Crayston. Crayston only ploughed up 
the turf, and did not pay rent, and sold the timber, thinking 
I should never miss it. But your brother has gone and forged 
my name. He had received all the purchase-money, while he 
only gave me half, and said the rest was to come afterwards. 
And the ungrateful scoundrel has gone and given a forged 
receipt ! You might have knocked me down with a straw when 
Mr. Henry told me about it all last night. * Never talk to me 
of virtue and such humbug again,' I said, * I'll never believe 
in him. Every one is for what he can get.' However, Mr. 
Henry wrote to the superintendent of police at Woodchester ; 
and has gone over himself this morning to see after it. But to 
think of your father having such a son ! " 

"Oh, my poor father!" sobbed out Maggie. "How glad 
I am you are dead before this disgrace came upon us ! " 

' ' You may well say disgrace. You're a good girl yourself, 
Maggie. I have always said that. How Edward has turned 
out as he has done, I cannot conceive. But now, Maggie, I've 
something to say to you." He moved uneasily about, as if he 
did not know how to begin. Maggie was standing, leaning 
her head against the chimney-piece, longing for her visitor to 
go, dreading the next minute, and wishing to shrink into some 
dark corner of oblivion where she might forget all for a time, 
till she regained a small portion of the bodily strength that had 
been sorely tried of late. Mr. Buxton saw her white look of 
anguish, and read it in part, but not wholly. He was too 
intent on what he was going to say. 

"I've been lying awake all night, thinking. You see the 
disgrace it is to you, though you are innocent ; and I'm sure 
you can't think of involving Frank in it." 

Maggie went to the little sofa, and, kneeling down by it, hid 
her face in the cushions. He did not go on, for he thought she 
was not listening to him. At last he said — 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 273 

" Come now, be a sensible girl, and face it out. I've a plan 
to propose." 

" I hear," said she in a dull, veiled voice. 

• ' Why, you know how against this engagement T have always 
been. Frank is but three-and-twenty, and does not know his 
own mind, as I tell him. Besides, he might marry any one he 
chose." 

" He has chosen me," murmured Maggie. 

" Of course, of course. But you'll not think of keeping him 
to it, after what has passed. You would not have such a fine 
fellow as Frank pointed at as the brother-in-law of a forger, 
would you ? It was far from what I wished for him before ; 
but now ! Why, you're glad your father is dead, rather than 
he should have lived to see this day ; and rightly, too, I think. 
And you'll not go and disgrace Frank. From what Mr. Henry 
hears, Edward has been a discredit to you in many ways. Mr. 
Henry was at Woodchester yesterday, and he says if Edward 
has been fairly entered as an attorney, his name may be struck 
off the Rolls for many a thing he has done. Think of my Frank 
having his bright name tarnished by any connection with such 
a man ! Mr. Henry says, even in a court of law what has come 
out about Edward would be excuse enough for a breach of 
promise of marriage." 

Maggie lifted up her wan face ; the pupils of her eyes were 
dilated, her hps were dead white. She looked straight at Mr. 
Buxton with indignant impatience — 

"Mr. Henry! Mr. Henry! What has Mr. Henry to do 
with me?" 

Mr. Buxton was staggered by the wild, imperious look, so 
new upon her mild, sweet face. But he was resolute for 
Frank's sake, and returned to the charge after a moment's 
pause. 

" Mr, Henry is a good friend of mine, who has my interest 
at heart. He has known what a subject of regret your engage- 
ment has been to me ; though really my repugnance to it was 
without cause formerly, compared to what it is now. Now be 
reasonable, my dear. I'm willing to do something for you if 
you will do something for me. You must see what a stop this 
sad affair has put to any thoughts between you and Frank. And 
you must see what cause I have to wish to punish Edward for 
his ungrateful behaviour, to say nothing of the forgery. Well, 



274 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

now ! I don't know what Mr. Henry will say to me, but I have 
thought of this. If you'll write a letter to Frank, just saying 
distinctly that, for reasons which must for ever remain a 
secret " > 

" Remain a secret from Frank?" said Maggie, again hfting 
up her head. * ' Why ? " 

"Why, my dear? You startle me with that manner of yours 
— ^just let me jfinish out my sentence. If you'll say that, for rea- 
sons which must for ever remain a secret, you decidedly and 
unchangeably give up all connection, all engagement with him 
(which, in fact, Edward's conduct has as good as put an end 
to), I'll go over to Woodchester and tell Mr. Henry and the 
police that they need not make further search after Edward, 
for that I won't appear against him. You can save youl 
brother ; and you'll do yourself no harm by writing this letter, 
for of course you see your engagement is broken off. For you 
never would wish to disgrace Frank." 

He paused, anxiously awaiting her reply. She did not speak. 

" I'm sure, if I appear against him, he is as good as trans- 
ported," he put in after a while. 

Just at this time there was a little sound of displaced china 
in the closet. Mr. Buxton did not attend to it, but Maggie 
heard it. She got up, and stood quite calm before Mr. 
Buxton. 

"You must go," said she. " I know you ; and I know you 
are not aware of the cruel way in which you have spoken to 
me, while asking me to give up the very hope and marrow of 

my life " She could not go on for a moment ; she was 

choked up with anguish. 

" It was the truth, Maggie," said he, somewhat abashed. 

" It was the truth that made the cruelty of it. But you did 
not mean to speak cruelly to me, I know. Only it is hard all 
at once to be called upon to face the shame and blasted 
character of one who was once an innocent child at the same 
father's knee." 

"I may have spoken too plainly," said Mr. Buxton, "but 
it was necessary to set the plain truth before you, for my son's 
sake. You will write the letter I ask ? " 

Her look was wandering and uncertain. Her attention was 
distracted by sounds which to him had no meaning ; and her 
judgment she felt was wavering and disturbed. 



1 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 275 

" I cannot tell. Give me time to think ; you will do that, I'm 
sure. Go now, and leave me alone. If it is right, God will 
give me strength to do it, and perhaps He will comfort me in 
my desolation. But I do not know — I cannot tell. I must 
have time to think. Go now, if you please, sir," said she 
imploringly. 

" I am sure you will see it is a right thing I ask of you," he 
persisted. 

" Go now," she repeated. 

' ' Very well. In two hours I will come back again ; for your 
sake, time is precious. Even while we speak he may be 
arrested. At eleven, I will come back." 

He went away, leaving her sick and dizzy with the effort to 
be calm and collected enough to think. She had forgotten for 
the moment how near Edward was ; and started when she saw 
the closet-door open, and his face put out. 

"Is he gone? I thought he never would go. What a time 
you kept him, Maggie ! I was so afraid, once, you might sit 
down to write the letter in this room ; and then I knew he 
would stop and worry you with interruptions and advice, so 
that it would never be ended ; and my back was almost broken. 
But you sent him off famously. Why, Maggie ! Maggie ! 
you're not going to faint, surely 1 " 

His sudden burst out of a whisper into a loud exclamation of 
surprise made her rally ; but she could not stand. She tried to 
smile, for he really looked frightened. 

"I have been sitting up for many nights; and now this 
sorrow ! " Her smile died away into a wailing, feeble cry. 

"Well, well! it's over now, you see. I was frightened 
enough myself this morning, I own ; and then you were brave 
and kind. But I knew you could save me, all along." 

At this moment the door opened, and Mrs. Browne came in. 

"Why, Edv/ard, dear! who would have thought of seeing 
you ! This is good of you ; what a pleasant surprise ! I often 
said, you might come over for a day from Woodchester. 
What's the matter, Maggie? you look so fagged. She's 
losing all her beauty, is not she, Edward ? Where's breakfast ? 
I thought I should find all ready. What's the matter? Why 
don't you speak?" said she, growing anxious at their silence. 
Maggie left the explanation to Edward. 

" Mother," said he, " I've been rather a naughty boy, and got 



276 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

into some trouble ; but Maggie is going to help me out of it, 
like a good sister." 

"What is it?" said Mrs. Browne, looking bewildered and 
uneasy. 

•' Oh, I took a little liberty with our friend Mr. Buxton's 
name, and wrote it down to a receipt — that was all." 

Mrs. Browne's face showed that the light came but slowly 
into her mind. 

"But that's forgery — is not it?" asked she at length, in 
terror. 

" People call it so," said Edward ; " I call it borrowing from 
an old friend, who was always willing to lend." 

" Does he know? — is he angry?" asked Mrs. Browne. 

"Yes, he knows, and he blusters a deal. He was working 
himself up grandly at first. Maggie ! I was getting rarely 
frightened, I can tell you." 

"Has he been here?" said Mrs. Browne, in bewildered 
fright. 

"Oh, yes! he and Maggie have been having a long talk, 
while I was hid in the china-closet. I would not go over that 
half-hour again for any money. However, he and Maggie 
came to terms at last." 

" No, Edward, we did not !" said Maggie in a low, quiver- 
ing voice. 

"Very nearly. She's to give up her engagement, and then 
he will let me off." 

' ' Do you mean that Maggie is to give up her engagement to 
Mr. Frank Buxton?" asked his mother. 

"Yes; it would never have come to anything, one might 
see that. Old Buxton would have held out against it till 
doomsday. And, sooner or later, Frank would have grown 
weary. If Maggie had had any spirit, she might have worked 
him up to marry her before now, and then I should have been 
spared even this fright, for they would never have set the police 
after Mrs. Frank Buxton's brother." 

"Why, dearest Edward, the police are not after you, are 
they?" said Mrs. Browne, for the first time alive to the urgency 
of the case. 

"I believe they are, though," said Edward. "But after 
what Mr. Buxton promised this morning, it does not signify." 

" He did not promise anything," said Maggie. 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 277 

Edward turned sharply to her, and looked at her. Then he 
went and took hold of her wrists with no gentle grasp, and 
spoke to her through his set teeth. 

"What do you mean, Maggie— what do you mean? " (giving 
her a little shake). "Do you mean that you'll stick to your 
lover, through thick and thin, and leave your brother to be 
transported? Speak, can't you?" 

She looked up at him, and tried to speak, but no words came 
out of her dry throat. At last she made a strong effort, 

"You must give me time to think. I will do what is right, by 
God's help." 

"As if it was not right — and such cant — to save your 
brother," said he, throwing her hands away in a passionate 
manner. 

"I must be alone," said Maggie, rising, and trying to stand 
steadily in the reeling room. She heard her mother and 
Edward speaking, but their words gave her no meanings 
and she went out. She was leaving the house by the kitchen 
door, when she remembered Nancy, left alone and helpless all 
through this long morning ; and, ill as she could endure 
detention from the solitude she longed to seek, she patiently 
fulfilled her small duties, and sought out some breakfast for the 
poor old woman. 

When she carried it upstairs, Nancy said — 

"There's something up. You've trouble in your sweet face, 
my darling. Never mind telling me — only don't sob so. I'll 
pray for you, bairn, and God will help you." 

" Thank you, Nancy. Do ! " and she left the room. 



CHAPTER IX. 

When she opened the kitchen-door, there was the same small, 
mizzling rain that had obscured the hght for weeks, and now 
it seemed to obscure hope. She clambered slowly (for indeed 
she was very feeble) up the Fell Lane, and threw herself under 
the leafless thorn, every small branch and twig of which was 
loaded with rain-drops. She did not see the well-beloved and 
familiar landscape, for her tears ; and did not miss the hills in 



278 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

the distance that were hidden behind the rain-clouds and 
sweeping showers. 

Mrs. Browne and Edward sat over the fire. He told her his 
own story : making the temptation strong ; the crime a mere 
trifling, venial error, which he had been led into through his 
idea that he was to become Mr. Buxton's agent. 

"But if it is only that," said Mrs. Browne, "surely ]Mr. 
Buxton will not think of going to law with you?" 

"It's not merely going to law that he will think of, but 
trying and transporting me. That Henry he has got for his 
agent is as sharp as a needle, and as hard as a nether mill- 
stone. And the fellow has obtained such a hold over Mr. 
Buxton, that he dare but do what he tells him. I can't 
imagine how he had so much free-will left as to come with his 
proposal to Maggie ; unless, indeed, Henry knows of it, or, 
what is most likely of all, has put him up to it. Between them, 
they have given that poor fool Crayston a pretty dose of it ; 
and I should have come yet worse off if it had not been for 
Maggie. Let me get clear this time, and I will keep to wind- 
ward of the law for the future." 

"If we sold the cottage we could repay it," said Mrs. 
Browne, meditating. "Maggie and I could live on very little. 
But, you see, this property is held in trust for you two." 

"Nay, mother! you must not talk of repaying it. Depend 
upon it he will be so glad to have Frank free from his engage- 
ment that he won't think of asking for the money. And if Mr. 
Henry says anything about it, we can tell him it's not half the 
damages they would have had to have given Maggie, if Frank 
had been extricated in any other way. I wish she would come 
back ; I would prime her a httle as to what to say. Keep a 
look out, mother, lest Mr. Buxton return and find me here." 

" I wish Maggie w^ould come in too," said Mrs. Browne. 
" I'm afraid she'll catch cold this damp day, and then I shall 
have two to nurse. You think she'll give it up, don't you, 
Edward? If she does not, I'm afraid of harm coming to you. 
Had you not better keep out of the way?" 

" It's fine talking. Where am I to go out of sight of the 
police, this wet day: without a shilling in the world, too? If 
you'll give me some money I'll be off fast enough and make 
assurance doubly sure. I'm not much afraid of Maggie. She's 
a little yea-nay thing, and I can always bend her round to what 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 2'f<) 

we want. She had better take care, too," said he, with a 

desperate look on his face, " for by G I'll make her give up 

all thoughts of Frank rather than be taken and tried. Why, 
it's my chance for all my life ; and do you think I'll have it 
frustrated for a girl's v^'him ! " 

" I think it's rather hard upon her, too," pleaded his mother. • 
*' She's very fond of him, and it would have been such a good 
match for her." 

" Pooh ! she's not nineteen yet, and has plenty of time before 
her to pick up somebody else ; while, don't you see, if I'm 
caught and transported, I'm done for for life. Besides, I've a 
notion Frank had already begun to be tired of the affair ; it 
would have been broken off in a month or two, without her 
gaining anything by it." 

"Well, if you think so," replied Mrs. Browne. "But I'm 
sorry for her. I always told her she was foolish to think so 
much about him ; but I know she'll fret a deal if it's given up." 

"Oh ! she'll soon comfort herself with thinking that she has 
saved me. I wish she'd come. It must be near eleven. I do 
wish she would come. Hark! is not that the kitchen door?" 
said he, turning white, and betaking himself once more to the 
china-closet. He held it ajar till he heard Maggie stepping 
softly and slowly across the floor. She opened the parlour 
door and stood looking in, with the strange, imperceptive gaze 
of a sleep-walker. Then she roused herself, and saw that he 
was not there ; so she came in a step or two, and sat down in 
her dripping cloak on a chair near the door. 

Edward returned, bold, now there was no danger. 

"Maggie," said he, "what have you fixed to say to Mr, 
Buxton?" 

, She sighed deeply ; and then lifted up her large innocent eyes 
to his face. 

" I cannot give up Frank," said she in a low, quiet voice. 

Mrs. Browne threw up her hands, and exclaimed in terror — 

" Oh, Edward, Edward ! go away — I will give you all the 
plate I have ; you can sell it — my darling, go ! " 

" Not till I have brought Maggie to reason," said he, in a 
manner as quiet as her own ; but with a subdued ferocity in it, 
which she saw, but which did not intimidate her. 

He went up to her, and spoke below his breath. 

' ' Maggie, we were children together— we two— brother and 



28o THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

sister of one blood ! Do you give me up to be put in prison — ■ 
in the hulks — among the basest of criminals — I don't know- 
where — all for the sake of your own selfish happiness?" 

She trembled very much ; but did not speak, or cry, or make 
any noise. 

" You were always selfish. You always thought of yourself. 
But this time I did think you would have shown how different 
you could be. But it's self — self — paramount above all." 

"Oh, Maggie ! how can you be so hard-hearted and selfish ?" 
echoed Mrs. Browne, crying and sobbing, 

"Mother!" said Maggie, "I know that I think too often 
and too much of myself. But this time I thought only of 
Frank. He loves me ; it would break his heart if I wrote as 
Mr. Buxton wishes, cutting our lives asunder, and giving no 
reason for it." 

"He loves you so," said Edward tauntingly. "A man's 
love break his heart ! You've got some pretty notions ! Who 
told you that he loved you so desperately? How do you 
know it?" 

" Because I love him so," said she, in a quiet, earnest voice. 
" I do not know of any other reason ; but that is quite sufficient 
to me. I believe him when he says he loves me ; and I have 
no right to cause him the infinite — the terrible pain, which my 
own heart tells me he would feel, if I did what Mr. Buxton 
wishes me." 

Her manner was so simple and utterly truthful, that it was as 
quiet and fearless as a child's ; her brother's fierce looks of 
anger had no power over her, and his blustering died away 
before her into something of the frightened cowardhness he had 
shown in the morning. But Mrs. Browne came up to Maggie, 
and took her hand between both of her's, which were trembling. 
" Maggie, you can save Edward. I know I have not loved 
you as I should have done ; but I will love and comfort you for 
ever, if you will but write as Mr. Buxton says. Think ! Per- 
haps Mr. Frank may not take you at your word, but may come 
over and see you, and all may be right, and yet Edward may 
be saved. It is only writing this letter ; you need not stick 
to it." 

" No ! " said Edward. " A signature, if you can prove com- 
pulsion, is not valid. We will all prove that you write this 
letter under compulsion ; and if Frank loves you so desperately. 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 28 1 

he won't give you up without a trial to make you change your 
mind." 

" No !" said Maggie firmly. " If I write the letter I abide 
by it. I will not quibble with my conscience. Edward ! I will 
not marry — I will go and Hve near you, and come to you when- 
ever I may — and give up my life to you if you are sent to prison ; 
my mother and I will go, if need be ; I do not know yet what I 
can do, or cannot do, for you, but all I can, I will ; but this 
one thing I cannot." 

"Then I'm off!" said Edward. "On your death-bed may 
you remember this hour, and how you denied your only brother's 
request. May you ask my forgiveness with your dying breath, 
and may I be there to deny it you." 

"Wait a minute!" said Maggie, springing up rapidly. 
"Edward, don't curse me with such terrible words till all is 
done. Mother, I implore you to keep him here. Hide him, 
do what you can to conceal him. I will have one more trial." 
She snatched up her bonnet, and was gone before they had 
time to think or speak to arrest her. 

On she flew along the Combehurst road. As she went, the 
tears fell hke rain down her face, and she talked to herself. 

" He should not have said so. No ; he should not have said 
so. We were the only two." But still she pressed on, over the 
thick, wet, brown heather. She saw Mr. Buxton coming ; and 
she went still quicker. The rain had cleared off, and a yellow 
watery gleam of sunshine was struggling out. She stopped 
him, or he would have passed her unheeded ; little expecting 
to meet her there, 

"I wanted to see you," said she, all at once resuming her 
composure, and almost assuming a dignified manner. "You 
must not go down to our house ; we have sorrow enough there. 
Come under these fir-trees, and let me speak to you." 

" I hope you have thought of what I said, and are willing to 
do what I asked you." 

" No ! " said she. " I have thought and thought. I did not 
think in a selfish spirit, though they say I did. I prayed first. 
I could not do that earnestly, and be selfish, I think. I cannot 
give up Frank. I know the disgrace ; and if he, knowing all, 
thinks fit to give me up, I shall never say a word, but bow 
my head, and try and live out my appointed days quietly and 
cheerfully. But he is the judge, not you ; nor have I any right 



282 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

to do what you ask me." She stopped, because the agitation 
took away her breath. 

He began in a cold manner : " I am very sorry. The law 
must take its course. I would have saved my son from the pain 
of all this knowledge, and that which he will of course feel 
in the necessity of giving up his engagement. I would have 
refused to appear against your brother, shamefully ungrateful 
as he has been. Now, you cannot wonder that I act according 
to my agent's advice ; and prosecute your brother as if he were 
a stranger." 

He turned to go away. He was so cold and determined that 
for a moment Maggie was timid. But she then laid her hand 
on his arm. 

" Mr. Buxton," said she, " you will not do what you threaten. 
I know you better. Think 1 My father was your old friend. 
That claim is, perhaps, done away with by Edward's conduct. 
But I do not believe you can forget it always. If you did fulfil 
the menace you uttered just now, there would come times as 
you grew older, and life grew fainter and fainter before you — 
quiet times of thought, when you remembered the days of your 
youth, and the friends you then had and knew ; you would 
recollect that one of them had left an only son, who had done 
wrong ; who had sinned, sinned against you in his weakness ; 
and you would think then — you could not help it — how you 
had forgotten mercy in justice ; and, as justice required he 
should be treated as a felon, you threw him among felons ; 
where every glimmering of goodness was darkened for ever. 
Edward is, after all, more weak than wicked ; but he will 
become wicked if you put him in prison, and have him trans- 
ported. God is merciful — we cannot tell or think how merciful. 
Oh, sir, I am so sure you will be merciful, and give my brother, 
my poor sinning brother, a chance, that I will tell you all. I 
will throw myself upon your pity. Edward is even now at 
home, miserable and desperate ; my mother is too much 
stunned to understand all our wretchedness, for very wretched 
we are in our shame." 

As she spoke, the wind arose and shivered in the wiry leaves 
of the fir-trees, and there was a moaning sound as of some 
Ariel imprisoned in the thick branches that, tangled overhead, 
made a shelter for them. Either the noise or Mr. Buxton's 
fancy called up an echo to Maggie's voice— a pleading with 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 283 

her pleading — a sad tone of regret, distinct, yet blending with 
her speech, and a falling, dying sound, as her voice died away 
in miserable suspense. 

It might be that, formed as she was by Mrs. Buxton's care 
and love, her accents and words were such as that lady, now 
at rest from all sorrow, would have used ; somehow, at any 
rate, the thought flashed into Mr. Buxton's mind that, as 
Maggie spoke, his dead wife's voice was heard, imploring 
mercy in a clear, distinct tone, though faint, as if separated 
from him by an infinite distance of space. At least, this is the 
account Mr. Buxton would have given of the manner in which 
the idea of his wife became present to him, and what she would 
have wished him to do a powerful motive in his conduct. 
Words of hers, long ago spoken, and merciful, forgiving ex- 
pressions, made use of in former days to soften him in some 
angry mood, were clearly remembered while Maggie spoke ; 
and their influence was perceptible in the change of his tone 
and the wavering of his manner henceforward. 

"And yet you will not save Frank from being involved in 
your disgrace," said he ; but more as if weighing and delibe- 
rating on the case than he had ever spoken before. 

" If Frank wishes it, I will quietly withdraw myself out of 
his sight for ever ; I give you my promise, before God, to do 
so. I shall not utter one word of entreaty or complaint. I 
will try not to wonder or feel surprise ; I will bless him in every 
action of his future life ; but think how different would be the 
disgrace lie would voluntarily incur, to my poor mother's 
shame, when she wakens up to know what her child has done ! 
Her very torpor about it now is more painful than words can 
tell." 

"What could Edward do?" asked Mr. Buxton. "Mr. 
Henry won't hear of my passing over any frauds." 

"Oh, you relent ! " said Maggie, taking his hand, and press- 
ing it. "What could he do? He could do the same, what- 
ever it was, as you thought of his doing, if I had written that 
terrible letter." 

"And you'll be wiUing to give it up, if Frank wishes, when 
he knows all?" asked Mr. Buxton. 

She crossed her hands and drooped her head, but answered 
steadily — 

"Whatever Frank wishes, when he knows all, I will gladly 



284 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

do. I will speak the truth. I do not believe that any shame 
surrounding me, and not in me, will alter Frank's love one 
tittle." 

"We shall see," said Mr. Buxton. " But what I thought of 

Edward's doing, in case Well, never mind ! " (seeing how 

she shrunk back from all mention of the letter he had asked her 
to write) — "was to go to America out of the way. Then Mr. 
Henry would think he had escaped, and need never be told of 
my connivance. I think he would throw up the agency if he 
were ; and he's a very clever man. If Ned is in England, Mr. 
Henry will ferret him out. And, besides, this affair is so blown, 
I don't think he could return to his profession. What do you 
say to this, Maggie?" 

"I v/iil tell my mother. I must ask her. To me it seems 
most desirable. Only, I fear he is very ill ; and it seems lonely ; 
but never mind ! We ought to be thankful to you for ever. I 
cannot tell you how I hope and trust he will live to show you 
what your goodness has made him." 

" But you must lose no time. If Mr. Henry traces him, I 
can't answer for myself. I shall have no good reason to give, 
as I should have had, if I could have told him that Frank 
and you were to be as strangers to each other. And even 
then I should have been afraid, he is such a determined 
fellow ; but uncommonly clever. Stay ! " said he, yielding to a 
sudden and inexplicable desire to see Edward, and discover if 
his criminality had in any way changed his outward appearance. 
"I'll go with you. I can hasten things. If Edward goes, he 
must be off, as soon as possible, to Liverpool, and leave no 
trace. The next packet sails the day after to-morrow. I noted 
it down from the Timesy 

Maggie and he sped along the road. He spoke his thoughts 
aloud — 

" I wonder if he will be grateful to me for this. Not that I 
ever mean to look for gratitude again. I mean to try not to 
care for anybody but Frank. ' Govern men by outward force,' 
says Mr. Henry. He is an uncommonly clever man, and he 
says, the longer he lives, the more he is convinced of the badness 
of men. He always looks for it now, even in those who are the 
best, apparently." 

Maggie was too anxious to answer, or even to attend to 
him. At the top of the slope she asked him to wait while 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 28$ 

she ran down and told the result of her conversation with him. 
Her mother was alone, looking white and sick. She told her 
that Edward had gone into the hay-loft, above the old, disused 
shippen. 

Maggie related the substance of her interview with Mr. 
Buxton, and his wish that Edward should go to America. 

"To America ! " said Mrs. Browne. " Why, that's as far as 
Botany Bay. It's just hke transporting him. I thought you'd 
done something for us, you looked so glad." 

" Dearest mother, it is something. He is not to be subjected 
to imprisonment nor trial. I must go and tell him, only I must 
. beckon to Mr. Buxton first. But when he comes, do show him 
how thankful we are for his mercy to Edward." 

Mrs. Browne's murmurings, whatever was their meaning, were 
lost upon Maggie. She ran through the court, and up the 
slope, with the lightness of a fawn ; for though she was tired in 
body to an excess she had never been before in her life, the 
opening beam of hope in the dark sky made her spirit conquer 
her flesh for the time. 

She did not stop to speak, but turned again as soon as she 
had signed to Mr. Buxton to follow her. She left the house- 
door open for his entrance, and passed out again through 
the kitchen into the space behind, which was partly an unen- 
closed yard, and partly rocky common. She ran across the 
little green to the shippen, and mounted the ladder into the 
dimly-lighted loft. Up in a dark corner Edward stood, with an 
old rake in his hand. 

" I thought it was you, Maggie ! " said he, heaving a deep 
breath of relief. " What have you done? Have you agreed to 
write the letter? You've done something for me, I see, by your 
looks." 

"Yes ; I have told Mr. Buxton all. He is waiting for you in 
the parlour. Oh ! I knew he could not be so hard ! " She was 
out of breath. 

"I don't understand you!" said he. "You've never been 
such a fool as to go and tell him where I am ? " 

"Yes, I have. I felt I might trust him. He has promised 
not to prosecute you. The worst is, he says you must go to 
America. But come down, Ned, and speak to him. You owe 
him thanks, and he wants to see you." 

"I can't go through a scene. I'm not up to it. Besides, 



286 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

are you sure he is not entrapping me to the police? If I had 
a farthing of money I would not trust him, but be off to the 
moors." 

" Oh, Edward ! How do you think he would do anything so 
treacherous and mean ! I beg you not to lose time in distrust. 
He says himself, if Mr. Henry comes before you are off, he does 
not know what will be the consequence. The packet sails for 
America in two days. It is sad for you to have to go. Perhaps 
even yet he may think of something better, though I don't know 
how we can ask or expect it." 

"I don't want anything better," replied he, "than that I 
should have money enough to carry me to America. I'm in 
more scrapes than this (though none so bad) in England ; and 
in America there's many an opening to fortune." 

He followed her down the steps while he spoke. Once in the 
yellow light of the watery day, she was struck by his ghastly 
look. Sharp lines of suspicion and cunning seemed to have 
been stamped upon his face, making it look older by many years 
than his age warranted. His jaunty evening dress, all weather- 
stained and dirty, added to his forlorn and disreputable appear- 
ance ; but most of all — deepest of all — was the impression she 
received that he was not long for this world ; and oh, how unfit 
for the next ! Still, if time was given — if he were placed far 
away from temptation — she thought that her father's son might 
yet repent, and be saved. She took his hand, for he was hang- 
ing back as they came near the parlour-door, and led him in. 
She looked like some guardian angel, with her face that beamed 
out trust, and hope, and thankfulness. He, on the contrary, 
hung his head in angry, awkward shame ; and half wished he 
had trusted to his own wits, and tried to evade the police, 
rather than have been forced into this interview. 

His mother came to him ; for she loved him all the more 
fondly, now he seemed degraded and friendless. She could 
not, or would not, comprehend the extent of his guilt ; and 
had upbraided Mr. Buxton to the top of her bent for thinking 
of sending him away to America. There was a silence when 
he came in which was insupportable to him. He looked up 
with clouded eyes, that dared not meet Mr. Buxton's. 

" I am here, sir, to learn what you wish me to do. Maggie 
says I am to go to America : if that is where you want to send 
me, I'm ready." 



I 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 287 

Mr. Buxton wished himself away as heartily as Edward. 
Mrs. Browne's upbraiding's, just when he felt that he had done 
a kind action, and yielded, against his judgment, to Maggie's 
entreaties, had made him think himself very ill-used. And now 
here was Edward speaking in a sullen, savage kind of way, 
instead of showing any gratitude. The idea of Mr. Henry's 
stern displeasure loomed in the background. 

" Yes," said he ; " I'm glad to find you come into the idea of 
going to America. It's the only place for you. The sooner 
you can go, the better." 

"I can't go without money," said Edward doggedly. "If 
I had had money, I need not have come here." 

"Oh, Ned ! would you have gone without seeing me?" said 
Mrs. Browne, bursting into tears. "Mr. Buxton, I cannot let 
him go to America. Look how ill he is. He'll die if you send 
him there." 

"Mother, don't give way so," said Edward kindly, taking 
her hand. " I'm not ill, at least not to signify. Mr. Buxton 
is right : America is the only place for me. To tell the truth, 
even if Mr. Buxton is good enough " (he said this as if unwilling 
to express any word of thankfulness) "not to prosecute me, 
there are others who may — and will. I'm safer out of the 
country. Give me money enough to get to Liverpool and pny 
my passage, and I'll be off this minute." 

"You shall not," said Mrs. Browne, holding him tightly. 
"You told me this morning you were led into temptation, and 
went wrong because you had no comfortable home, nor any 
one to care for you, and make you happy. It will be worse in 
America. You'll get wrong again, and be away from all who 
can help you. Or you'll die all by yourself, in some backwood 
or other. Maggie ! you might speak and help me — how can 
you stand so still, and let him go to America without a word ! " 

Maggie looked up bright and steadfast, as if she saw some- 
thing beyond the material present. Here was the opportunity 
for self-sacrifice of which Mrs. Buxton had spoken to her in her 
childish days — the time which comes to all, but comes unheeded 
and unseen to those whose eyes are not trained to watching. 

"Mother! could you do without me for a time? If you 

could, and it would make you easier, and help Edward to " 

The word on her lips died away ; for it seemed to imply a 
reproach on one who stood in his shame among them all. 



288 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

"You would go!" said Mrs. Browne, catching at the un- 
finished sentence. " Oli ! Maggie, that's the best thing you've 
ever said or done since you were born. Edward, would not 
you like to have Maggie with you?" 

"Yes," said he, "well enough. It would be far better for 
me than going all alone ; though I dare say I could make my 
way pretty well after a time. If she went, she might stay till 
I felt settled, and had made some friends, and then she could 
come back." 

Mr. Buxton was astonished at first by this proposal of 
Maggie's. He could not all at once understand the difference 
between what she now offered to do, and what he had urged 
upon her only this very morning. But as he thought about it, 
he perceived that what was her own she was willing to sacrifice ; 
but that Frank's heart once given into her faithful keeping, she 
was answerable for it to him and to God. This light came 
down upon him slowly ; but when he understood, he admired 
with almost a wondering admiration. That little timid girl, 
brave enough to cross the ocean and go to a foreign land, if she 
could only help to save her brother ! 

"I'm sure, Maggie," said he, turning towards her, "you 
are a good, thoughtful little creature. It may be the saving of 
Edward — I believe it will. I think God will bless you for being 
so devoted." 

" The expense will be doubled," said Edward. 

"My dear boy! never mind the money. I can get it ad- 
vanced upon this cottage." 

"As for that, I'll advance it," said Mr. Buxton. 

"Could we not," said Maggie, hesitating from her want of 
knowledge, "make over the furniture, papa's books, and what 
httle plate we have, to Mr. Buxton — something like pawning 
them — if he would advance the requisite money ? He, strange 
as it may seem, is the only person you can ask in this great 
strait." 

And so it was arranged, after some demur on Mr. Buxton's 
part. But Maggie kept steadily to her point as soon as she 
found that it was attainable ; and Mrs. Browne was equally 
inflexible, though from a different feehng. She regarded Mr. 
Buxton as the cause of her son's banishment, and refused to 
accept of any favour from him. If there had been time, indeed, 
she would have preferred obtaining the money in the same 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 289 

manner from any one else. Edward brightened up a little 
when he heard the sum could be procured ; he was almost 
indifferent how ; and, strangely callous, as Maggie thought, he 
even proposed to draw up a legal form of assignment. Mr, 
Buxton only thought of hurrying on the departure; but he 
could not refrain from expressing his approval and admiration 
of Maggie whenever he came near her. Before he went, he 
called her aside. 

" My dear, I'm not sure if Frank can do better than marry 
you, after all. Mind ! I've not given it as much thought as 
I should hke. But if you come back as we plan, next autumn, 
and he is steady to you till then — and Edward is going on 
well (if he can but keep good, he'll do, for he is very sharp — 
yon is a knowing paper he drew up) — why, I'll think about it. 
Only let Frank see a bit of the world first. I'd rather you did 
not tell him I've any thoughts of coming round, that he may 
have a fair trial ; and I'll keep it from Erminia if I can, or she 
will let it all out to him. I shall see you to-morrow at the 
coach. God bless you, my girl, and keep you on the great 
wide sea." He was absolutely in tears when he went away — 
tears of admiring regret over Maggie. 



CHAPTER X. 

The more Maggie thought, the more she felt sure that the 
impulse on which she had acted in proposing to go with her 
brother was right. She feared there was little hope for his 
character, whatever there might be for his worldly fortune, if 
he were thrown, in the condition of mind in which he was now, 
among the set of adventurous men who are continually going 
over to America in search of an El Dorado to be discovered 
by their wits. She knew she had but little influence over him 
at present ; but she would not doubt or waver in her hope that 
patience and love might work him right at last. She meant to 
get some employment — in teaching — in needlework— in a shop 
— no matter how humble — and be no burden to him, and make 
him a happy home, from which he should feel no wish to 
wander. Her chief anxiety was about her mother. She did 
not dwell more than she could help on her long absence from 



290 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

Frank ; it was too sad, and yet too necessary. She meant to 
write and tell him all about herself and Edward. The only 
thing which she would keep for some happy future, should be 
the possible revelation of the proposal which Mr. Buxton had 
made, that she should give up her engagement as a condition 
of his not prosecuting Edward. 

There was much sorrowful bustle in the moorland cottage 
that day. Erminia brought up a portion of the money Mr. 
Buxton was to advance, with an entreaty that Edward would 
not show himself out of his home ; and an account of a letter 
from Mr. Henry stating that the Woodchester police believed 
]]im to be in London, and that search was being made for him 
there. 

Erminia looked very grave and pale. She gave her message 
to Mrs. Browne, speaking little beyond what was absolutely 
necessary. Then she took Maggie aside, and suddenly burst 
into tears. 

"Maggie, darling — what is this going to America? You've 
always and always been sacrificing yourself to 5^our family, 
and now you're setting off, nobody knows where, in some vain 
hope of reforming Edward. I wish he was not your brother, 
that I might speak of him as I should like." 

" He has been doing what is very wrong," said Maggie. 
" But you — none of you — know his good points — nor how he 
has been exposed to all sorts of bad influences, I am sure ; and 
never had the advantage of a father's training and friend- 
ship, which are so inestimable to a son. O Minnie, when I 
remember how we two used to kneel down in the evenings at 
my father's knee and say our prayers ', and then listen in awe- 
struck silence to his earnest blessing, which grew more like a 
prayer for us as his life v/aned away ; I would do anything for 
Edward rather than that wrestling agony of supplication should 
have been in vain. I think of him as the little innocent boy, 
whose arm v/as round me as if to support me in the Awful 
Presence, whose true name of Love we had not learned. 
Minnie ! he has had no proper training — no training, I mean, 
to enable him to resist temptation ; and he has been thrown 
into it without warning or advice. Now he knows what it is ; 
and I must try, though I am but an unknowing girl, to warn 
and to strengthen him. Don't weaken my faith. Who can do 
ricrht if we lose faith in them ? " 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 29I 

*' And Frank ! " said Erminia, after a pause. " Poor Frank ! " 

"Dear Frank!" replied Maggie, looking up, and trying 
to smile ; but, in spite of herself, her eyes filled with tears. 
" If I could have asked him, I know he would approve of 
what I am going to do. He would feel it to be right that 
I should make every effort — I don't mean," said she, as the 
tears would fall down her cheeks in spite of her quivering 
efforts at a smile, " that I should not have liked to have seen 
him. But it is of no use talking of what one would have 
liked. I am writing a long letter to him at every pause of 
leisure. " 

" And I'm keeping you all this time," said Erminia, getting 
up, yet loth to go. "When do you intend to come back? 
Let us feel there is a fixed time. America ! Why, it's thou- 
sands of miles away. Oh, Maggie ! Maggie ! " 

" I shall come back the next autumn, I trust," said IMaggie, 
comforting her friend with many a soft caress. "Edward 
will be settled then, I hope. You were longer in France, 
Minnie. Frank was longer away that time he wintered in 
Italy with Mr. Monro." 

Erminia went slowly to the door. Then she turned, right 
facing Maggie. 

* ' Maggie ! tell the truth. Has my uncle been urging you 
to go? Because if he has, don't trust him ; it is onlj- to break 
off your engagement." 

"No, he has not, indeed. It was my own thought at first. 
Then in a moment I saw the relief it was to my mother— my 
poor mother ! Erminia, the thought of her grief at Edward's 
absence is the trial ; for my sake, you will come often and 
often, and comfort her in every way you can.'"' 

"Yes; that I will — tell me everything I can do for you." 
Kissing each other, with long, lingering delay, they parted. 

Nancy would be informed of the cause of the commotion 
in the house ; and when she had in some degree ascertained 
its nature, she wasted no time in asking further questions, 
but quietly got up and dressed herself; and appeared among 
them, weak and trembling, indeed, but so calm and thoughtful, 
that her presence was an infinite help to Maggie, 

When day closed in, Edward stole down to the house once 
more. He was haggard enough to have been in anxiety and 
concealment for a month. But when his body was refreshed 



292 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

his spirits rose in a way inconceivable to Maggie. The 
Spaniards who went out with Pizarro were not lured on by- 
more fantastic notions of the wealth to be acquired in the 
New World than he was. He dwelt on these visions in so 
brisk and vivid a manner, that he even made his mother 
cease her weary weeping (which had lasted the livelong day, 
despite all Maggie's efforts), to look up and hsten to him. 

" I'll answer for it," said he, "before long I'll be an American 
judge, with miles of cotton plantations." 

" But in America," sighed out his mother. 

"Never mind, mother!" said he, with a tenderness which 
made Maggie's heart glad. " If you won't come over to 
America to me, why, I'll sell them all and come back to live 
in England. People will forget the scrapes that the rich 
American got into in his youth." 

"You can pay back Mr. Buxton then," said his mother. 

"Oh, yes, of course," replied he, as if falling into a new 
and trivial idea. 

Thus the evening whiled away. The mother and son sat, 
hand in hand, before the little glinting blazing parlour fire, 
with the unlighted candles on the table behind. Maggie, 
busy in preparations, passed softly in and out. And when 
all was done that could be done before going to Liverpool, 
where she hoped to have two days to prepare their outfit more 
completely, she stole back to her mother's side. But her 
thoughts would wander off to Frank, "working his way south 
through all the hunting-counties," as he had written her word. 
If she had not urged his absence, he would have been here 
for her to see his noble face once more ; but then perhaps 
she might never have had the strength to go. 

Late, late in the night, they separated. Maggie could not 
rest, and stole into her mother's room. Mrs. Browne had 
cried herself to sleep, like a child. Maggie stood and looked 
at her face, and then knelt down by the bed and prayed. 
When she arose, she saw that her mother was awake, and 
had been looking at her. 

"Maggie, dear! you're a good girl, and I think God will 
hear your prayer whatever it was for. I cannot tell you what 
a relief it is to me to think you're going with him. It would 
have broken my heart else. If I've sometimes not been as 
kind as I might have been, I ask your forgiveness now, my 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 293 

dear ; and I bless you and thank you for going out with him ; 
for I'm sure he's not well and strong, and will need somebody 
to take care of him. And you shan't lose with Mr. Frank, 
for as sure as I see him I'll tell him what a good daughter 
and sister you've been ; and I shall say, for all he is so rich, 
I think he may look long before he finds a wife for him hke 
our Maggie. I do wish Ned had got that new greatcoat he 
says he left behind him at Woodchester." 

Her mind reverted to her darling son ; but Maggie took 
her short slumber by her mother's side, with her mother's 
arms around her, and awoke and felt that her sleep had been 
blessed. At the coach-office the next morning they met Mr. 
Buxton, all ready as if for a journey, but glancing about him 
as if in fear of some coming enemy. 

*' I'm going with you to Liverpool," said he. ** Don't make 
any ado about it, please. I shall like to see you off, and I 
may be of some use to you, and Erminia begged it of me ; 
and, besides, it will keep me out of Mr. Henry's way for a 
little time, and I'm afraid he will find it all out, and think 
me very weak ; but, you see, he made me too hard upon 
Crayston, so I may take it out in a little soft-heartedness 
towards the son of an old friend." 

Just at this moment Erminia came running through the 
white morning mist all glowing with haste. 

"Maggie," said she, "I'm come to take care of your 
mother. My uncle says she and Nancy must come to us 
for a long, long visit. Or if she would rather go home, I'll 
go with her till she feels able to come to us, and do anything 
I can think of for her. I will try to be a daughter till you 
come back, Maggie ; only don't be long, or Frank and I shall 
break our hearts." 

Maggie waited till her mother had ended her long clasping 
embrace of Edward, who was subdued enough this morning ; 
and then, with something like Esau's craving for a blessing, 
she came to bid her mother "good-bye," and received the 
warm caress she had longed for for years. In another moment 
the coach was away, and before half-an-hour had elapsed, 
Combehurst church-spire had been lost in a turn of the road. 

Edward and Mr. Buxton did not speak to each other, 
and Maggie was nearly silent. They reached Liverpool in 
the afternoon ; and Mr. Buxton, who had been there once 



294 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

or twice before, took them directly to some quiet hotel. He 
was far more anxious that Edward should not expose himself 
to any chance of recognition than Edward himself. He went 
down to the Docks to secure berths in the vessel about to sail 
the next day, and on his return he took Maggie out to make 
the requisite purchases. 

"Did you pay for us, sir?" said Maggie, anxious to 
ascertain the amount of money she had left, after defraying 
the passage. 

"Yes," replied he, rather confused. " Erminia begged me 
not to tell you about it, but I can't manage a secret well. You 
see, she did not like the idea of your going as steerage- 
passengers as you meant to do, and she desired me to take 
you cabin places for her. It is no doing of mine, my dear. 
I did not think of it ; but now I have seen how crowded the 
steerage is, I am very glad Erminia had so much thought. 
Edward might have roughed it well enough there, but it 
would never have done for you." 

"It was very kind of Erminia," said Maggie, touched at 
this consideration of her friend ; "but " 

"Now don't 'but' about it," interrupted he. "Erminia 
is very rich, and has more money than she knows what to 
do with. I'm only vexed I did not think of it myself. For, 
Maggie, though I may have my own ways of thinking on 
some points, I can't be blind to your goodness." 

All evening Mr. Buxton was busy, and busy on their behalf. 
Even Edward, when he saw the attention that was being 
paid to his physical comfort, felt a kind of penitence ; and, 
after choking once or twice in the attempt, conquered his 
pride (such I call it for want of a better word) so far as to 
express some regret for his past conduct, and some gratitude 
for Mr. Buxton's present kindness. He did it awkwardly 
enough, but it pleased Mr. Buxton. 

"Well — well — that's all very right," said he, reddening 
from his own uncomfortableness of feeling. "Now don't 
say any more about it, but do your best in America ; don't 
let me feel I've been a fool in letting you off. I know Mr. 
Henry will think me so. And, above all, take care of Maggie. 
Mind what she says, and you're sure to go right." 

He asked them to go on board early the next day, as he had 
promised Erminia to see them there, and yet wished to return 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 295 

as soon as he could. It was evident that he hoped, by making^ 
his absence as short as possible, to prevent Mr. Henry's ever 
knowing that he had left home, or in any way connived at 
Edward's escape. 

So, although the vessel was not to sail till the afternoon's tide, 
they left the hotel soon after breakfast, and went to the Anna- 
Maria. They were among the first passengers on board. 
Mr. Buxton took Maggie down to her cabin. She then saw 
the reason of his business the evening before. Every store 
that could be provided was there. A number of books lay 
on the little table — books just suited to Maggie's taste. 
"There!" said he, rubbing his hands. "Don't thank me. 
It's all Erminia's doing. She gave me the hst of books. I've 
. not got all ; but I think they'll be enough. Just write me one 
line, Maggie, to say I've done my best." 

Maggie wrote with tears in her eyes — tears of love towards 
the generous Erminia. A few minutes more and Mr. Buxton 
was gone. Maggie watched him as long as she could see him ; 
and as his portly figure disappeared among the crowd on the 
pier, her heart sank within her. 

Edward's, on the contrary, rose at his absence. The only 
one cognisant of his shame and ill-doing was gone. A new 
life lay before him, the opening of which was made agreeable 
to him by the position in which he found himself placed, as 
a cabin-passenger, with many comforts provided for him ; for 
although Maggie's wants had been the principal object of Mr. 
Buxton's attention, Edward was not forgotten. 

He was soon among the sailors, talking away in rather a 
consequential manner. He grew acquainted with the re- 
mainder of the cabin-passengers, at least those who arrived 
before the final bustle began ; and kept bringing his sister 
such little pieces of news as he could collect. 

"Maggie, they say we are likely to have a good start, and a 
fine moonlight night." Away again he went. 

" I say, Maggie, there's an uncommonly pretty girl come on 
board with those old people in black. Gone down into the 
cabin now ; I wish you would scrape up an acquaintance with 
her, and give me a chance." 



296' THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 



CHAPTER XI. 

Maggie sat on deck, wrapped in her duffel-cloak — the old 
familiar cloak which had been her wrap in many a happy 
walk in the haunts near her moorland home. The weather 
was not cold for the time of year, but still it was chilly to any 
one that was stationary. But she wanted to look her last 
on the shoals of English people, who crowded backwards 
and forwards, like ants, on the pier. Happy people, who 
might stay among their loved ones ! The mocking daemons 
gathered round her, as they gather round all who sacrifice 
self, tempting. A crowd of suggestive doubts pressed upon 
her. "Was it really necessary that she should go with 
Edward? Could she do him any real good? Would he be in 
any way influenced by her?" Then the daemon tried another 
dtjscription of doubt. "Had it ever been her duty to go? 
She was leaving her mother alone. She was giving Frank 
much present sorrow. It was not even yet too late ! " She 
could not endure longer, and replied to her own tempting 
heart — 

" I was right to hope for Edward ; I am right to give him 
the chance of steadiness which my presence will give. I am 
doing what my mother earnestly wished me to do ; and what 
to the last she felt relieved by my doing. I know Frank will 
feel sorrow, because I myself have such an aching heart ; 
but if I had asked him whether I was not right in going, he 
would have been too truthful not to have said ' yes.' I have 
tried to do right, and though I may fail, and evil may seem 
to arise rather than good out of my endeavour, yet still I will 
submit to my failure, and try and say ' God's will be done ! ' If 
only I might have seen Frank once more, and told him all face 
to face ! " 

To do away with such thoughts, she determined no longer 
to sit gazing, and tempted by the shore : and, giving one look 
to the land which contained her lover, she went down below, 
and busied herself, even through her blinding tears, in trying 
to arrange her own cabin, and Edward's, She heard boat 
after boat arrive, loaded with passengers. She learnt from 
Edward, who came down to tell her the fact, that there were 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 297 

upwards of two hundred steerage passengers. She felt the 
tremulous shake which announced that the ship was loosed 
from her moorings, and being tugged down the river. She 
wrapped herself up once more, and came on deck, and sat 
down among the many who were looking their last look at 
England. The early winter evening was darkening in, and 
shutting out the Welsh coast, the hills of which were like the 
hills of home. She was thankful when she became too ill to 
think and remember. 

Exhausted and still, she did not know whether she was sleep- 
ing or waking ; or whether she had slept, since she had thrown 
herself down on her cot ; when, suddenly, there was a great 
rush, and then Edward stood like lightning by her, pulling her 
up by the arm. 

" The ship is on fire — to the deck, Maggie ! Fire ! Fire ! " he 
shouted, like a maniac, while he dragged her up the stairs — as 
if the cry of "Fire" could summon human aid on the great 
deep. And the cry was echoed up to heaven by all that crowd, 
in an accent of despair. 

They stood huddled together, dressed and undressed ; now 
in red lurid light, showing ghastly faces of terror — now in white 
wreaths of smoke — as far away from the steerage as they could 
press ; for there, up from the hold, rose columns of smoke, and 
now and then a fierce blaze leaped out, exulting — higher and 
higher every time ; while from each crevice on that part of the 
deck issued harbingers of the terrible destruction that awaited 
them. 

The sailors were lowering the boats ; and above them stood 
the captain, as calm as if he were on his own hearth at home — 
his home where he never more should be. His voice was low 
— was lower ; but as clear as a bell in its distinctness ; as wise 
in its directions as collected thought could make it. Some of 
the steerage passengers w^ere helping ; but more were dumb and 
motionless with affright. In that dead silence was heard a low 
wail of sorrow, as of numbers whose power was crushed out of 
them by that awful terror. Edward still held his clutch of 
Margaret's arm. 

*' Be ready ! " said he in a fierce whisper. 

The fire sprung up along the main-mast, and did not sink or 
disappear again. They knew, then, that all the mad efforts 
made by some few below to extinguish it were in vain ; and 

K 2 



298 THE MOOkLAND COTTAGE. 

then went up the prayers of hundreds, in mortal agony of 
fear — 

" Lord ! have mercy upon us ! " 

Not in quiet calm of village church did ever such a pitiful 
€ry go up to heaven ; it was like one voice — like the day of 
judgment in the presence of the Lord. 

And after that there was no more silence ; but a confusion of 
terrible farewells, and wild cries of affright, and purposeless 
rushes hither and thither. 

The boats were down, rocking on the sea. The captain 
spoke — 

" Put the children in first ; they are the most helpless." 

One or two stout sailors stood in the boats to receive them. 
Edward drew nearer and nearer to the gangway, pulling Maggie 
with him. She was almost pressed to death, and stifled. Close 
in her ear, she heard a woman praying to herself. She, poor 
creature, knew of no presence but God's in that awful hour, and 
spoke in a low voice to Him. 

" My heart's darlings are taken away from me. Faith ! faith ! 
Oh, my great God ! I will die in peace, if Thou wilt but grant 
me faith in this terrible hour, to feel that Thou wilt take care 
of my poor orphans. Hush ! dearest Billy," she cried out shrill 
to a httle fellow in the boat, waiting for his mother ; and the 
change in her voice, from despair to a kind of cheerfulness, 
showed what a mother's love can do. "Mother will come 
soon. Hide his face, Anne, and wrap your shawl tight round 
him." And then her voice sank down again, in the same low, 
wild prayer for faith. Maggie could not turn to see her face, 
but took the hand which hung near her. The woman clutched 
at it with the grasp of a vice ; but went on praying, as if un- 
conscious. Just then the crowd gave way a little. The captain 
had said that the women were to go next ; but they were too 
frenzied to obey his directions, and now pressed backward 
and forward. The sailors, with mute, stern obedience, strove 
to follow out the captain's directions. Edward pulled Maggie, 
and she kept her hold on the mother. The mate, at the head 
of the gangway, pushed him back. 

" Only women are to go ! " 

"There are men there." 

" Three, to manage the boat." 

*'Come on, Maggie! while there's room for us," said he, 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 299 

unheeding. But Maggie drew back, and put the mother's hand 
into the mate's. "Save her first," said she. The woman did 
not know of anything, but that her cliildren were there ; it was 
only in after days, and quiet hours, that she remembered the 
young creature who pushed her forwards to join her fatherless 
children, and, by losing her place in the crowd, was jostled — 
where, she did not know ; but dreamed until her dying day. 
Edward pressed on, unaware that Maggie was not close behind 
him. He was deaf to reproaches ; and, heedless of the hand 
stretched out to hold him back, sprang towards the boat. The 
men there pushed her off— full, and more than full, as she was; 
and overboard he fell into the sullen heaving waters. 

His last shout had been on Maggie's name — a name she 
never thought to hear again on earth, as she was pressed back, 
sick and suffocating. But suddenly a voice rang out above all 
confused voices and moaning hungry waves, and above the 
roaring fire. 

*' Maggie, Maggie ! My Maggie ! " 

Out of the steerage side of the crowd a tall figure issued 
forth, begrimed with smoke. She could not see, but she 
knew. As a tame bird flutters to the human breast of its pro- 
tector when affrighted by some mortal foe, so Maggie fluttered 
and cowered into his arms. And, for a moment, there was no 
more terror or thought of danger in the hearts of those twain, 
but only infinite and absolute peace. She had no wonder how 
he came there : it was enough that he was there. He first 
thought of the destruction that was present with them. He 
was as calm and composed as if they sat beneath the thorn-tree 
on the still moorlands, far away. He took her, without a word, 
to the end of the quarter-deck. He lashed her to a piece of 
spar. She never spoke. 

"Maggie," he said, " my only chance is to throw you over- 
board. This spar will keep you floating. At first, you will go 
down — deep, deep down. Keep your mouth and eyes shut. I 
shall be there when you come up. By God's help, I will 
struggle bravely for you." 

She looked up ; and by the flashing Hght he could see a 
trusting, loving smile upon her face. And he smiled back at 
her ; a grave, beautiful look, fit to wear on his face in heaven. 
He helped her to the side of the vessel, away from the falling 
burning pieces of mast. Then for a moment he paused. 



300 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

"If Maggie, I maybe throwing you in to death." He 

put his hand before his eyes. The strong man lost courage. 
Then she spoke — 

" I am not afraid ; God is with us, whether we Hve or die ! " 
She looked as quiet and happy as a child on its mother's 
breast ; and so, before he lost heart again, he heaved her up, 
and threw her as far as he could over into the glaring, dizzying 
water ; and straight leaped after her. She came up with an 
involuntary look of terror on her face ; but when she saw him 
by the red glare of the burning ship close by her side, she shut 
her eyes, and looked as if peacefully going to sleep. He swam, 
guiding the spar. 

' ' I think we are near Llandudno. I know we have passed 
the little Ormes' head." That was all he said ; but she did 
not speak. 

He swam out of the heat and fierce blaze of light into the 
quiet dark waters ; and then into the moon's path. It might 
be half-an-hour before he got into that silver stream. When 
the beams fell down upon them he looked at Maggie. Her 
head rested on the spar, quite still. He could not bear it. 
" Maggie— dear heart ! speak ! " 

With a great effort she was called back from the borders of 
death by that voice, and opened her filmy eyes, which looked 
abroad as if she could see nothing nearer than the gleaming 
lights of heaven. She let the lids fall softly again. He was 
as if alone in the wide world with God. 

"A quarter of an hour more and all is over," thought he. 
" The people at Llandudno must see our burning ship, and will 
come out in their boats." He kept in the fine of light, 
although it did not lead him direct to the shore, in order that 
I hey might be seen. He swam with desperation. One 
moment he thought he had heard her last gasp rattle through 
the rush of the waters ; ^nd all strength was gone, and he lay 
on the waves as if he himself must die, and go with her spirit 
straight through that purple lift to heaven ; the next he heard 
the splash of oars, and raised himself and cried aloud. The 
boatmen took them in, and examined her by the lantern, — 
and spoke in Welsh, — and shook their heads. Frank threw 
himself on his knees, and prayed them to take her to land. 
They did not know his words, but they understood his prayer. 
He kissed her lips, he chafed her hands, he wrung the 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 30I 

water out of her hair, he held her feet against his warm 
breast. 

"She is not dead," he kept saying to the men, as he saw 
their sorrowful, pitying looks. 

The kind people at Llandudno had made ready their own 
humble beds, with every appliance of comfort they could think 
of, as soon as they understood the nature of the calamity which 
had befallen the ship on their coasts. Frank walked, dripping, 
bareheaded, by the body of his Margaret, which was borne by 
some men along the rocky, sloping shore. 

" She is not dead ! " he said. He stopped at the first house 
they came to. It belonged to a kind-hearted woman. They 
laid. Maggie in her bed, and got the village doctor to come and 
see her. 

'• There is life still," said he gravely. 

** I knew it," said Frank. But it felled him to the ground. 
He sank first in prayer, and then in insensibihty. The doctor 
did everything. All that night long he passed to and fro 
from house to house ; for several had swum to Llandudno. 
Others, it was thought, had gone to Abergele. 

In the morning Frank was recovered enough to write to his 
father, by Maggie's bedside. He sent the letter off to Conway 
by a little bright-looking Welsh boy. Late in the afternoon 
she awoke. 

In a moment or two she looked eagerly round her, as if 
gathering in her breath ; and then she covered her head and 
sobbed. 

" Where is Edward ? " asked she. 

"We do not know," said Frank gravely. "I have been 
round the village, and seen every survivor here ; he is not 
among them, but he may be at some other place along the 
coast." 

She was silent, reading in his eyes his fears — his belief. 

At last she asked again, 

* * I cannot understand it. My head is not clear. There 
are such rushing noises in it. How came you there ? " She 
shuddered involuntarily as she recalled the terrible where. 

For an instant he dreaded, for her sake, to recall the circum- 
stances of the night before ; but then he understood how her 
mind would dwell upon them until she was satisfied. 

"You remember writing to me, love, telHng me all. I got 



502 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

your letter — I don't know how long ago — yesterda}', I think. 
Yes ! in the evening. You could not think, Maggie, I would 
let you go alone to America. I won't speak against Edward, 
poor fellow ! but we must both allow that he was not the person 
to watch over you, as such a treasure should be watched over. 
I thought I would go with you. I hardly know if I meant to 
make myself known to you all at once, for I had no wish to 
have much to do with your brother. I see now that it was 
selfish in me. Well ! there was nothing to be done, after 
receiving your letter, but to set off for Liverpool straight, and 
join you. And after that decision was made, my spirits rose, 
for the old talks about Canada and Australia came to my 
mind, and this seemed like a realisation of them. Besides, 
Maggie, I suspected — I even suspect now — that my father had 
something to do with your going with Edward ?" 

"Indeed, Frank!" said she earnestly, "you are mistaken; 
I cannot tell you all now ; but he was so good and kind at 
last. He never urged me to go ; though, I believe, he did tell 
me it would be the saving of Edward." 

" Don't agitate yourself, love. I trust there will be time 
enough, some happy day at home, to tell me all. And till then, 
I will believe that my father did not in any way suggest this 
voyage. But you'll allow that, after all that has passed, it was 
not unnatural in me to suppose so. I only told Middleton I 
was obliged to leave him by the next train. It was not till I 
was fairly off, that I began to reckon up what money I had with 
me. I doubt even if I was sorry to find it was so little. I 
should have to put forth my energies and fight my way, as I 
had often wanted to do. I remember, I thought how happy 
you and I would be, striving together as poor people * in that 
new world which is the old.' Then you had told me you were 
going in the steerage, and that was all suitable to my desires 
for myself." 

" It vvas Erminia's kindness that prevented our going 
there. She asked your father to take us cabin places unknown 
to me." 

"Did she? Dear Erminia ! it is just like her. I could al- 
most laugh to remember the eagerness with which I doffed my 
signs of wealth, and put on those of poverty. I sold my watch 
when I got into Liverpool — yesterday, I believe— but it seems 
like months ago. And I rigged myself out at a slop-shop with 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 305 

suitable clothes for a steerage passenger. Maggie ! you never 
told me the name of the vessel you were going to sail in ! " 

" I did not know it till I got to Liverpool. All Mr. Buxton 
said was that some ship sailed on the 15th." 

"I concluded it must be the Anna-Maria (poor Anna- 
Maria /) and I had no time to lose. She had just heaved her 
anchor when I came on board. Don't you recollect a boat hail- 
ing her at the last moment ? There were three of us in her." 

"No ; I was below in my cabin — trying not to think," said 
she, colouring a little. 

" Well ! as soon as I got on board it began to grow dark, or, 
perhaps, it was the fog on the river ; at any rate, instead of 
being able to single out your figure at once, Maggie — it is one 
among a thousand— I had to go peering into every woman's face, 
and many were below. I went between decks, and by-and-by 
I was afraid I had mistaken the vessel ; I sat down ; I had no> 
spirit to stand ; and every time the door opened I roused up 
and looked — but you never came. I was thinking what to do ; 
whether to be put on shore in Ireland, or to go on to New 
York, and wait for you there ; it was the worst time of all, 
for I had nothing to do, and the suspense was horrible. I 
might have known," said he, smiling, "my little Emperor of 
Russia was not one to be a steerage passenger. " 

But Maggie was too much shaken to smile, and the thought 
of Edward lay heavy upon her mind. 

"Then the fire broke out; how, or why, I suppose, will 
never be ascertained. It was at our end of the vessel. I 
thanked God, then, that you were not there. The second 
mate wanted some one to go down with him to bring up' 
the gunpowder, and throw it overboard. I had nothing to do, 
and I went. We wrapped it up in wet sails, but it was a ticklish 
piece of work, and took time. When we had got it overboard,, 
the flames were gathering far and wide. I don't remember what 
I did until I heard Edward's voice speaking your name." 

It was decided that the next morning they should set off 
homewards, striving on their way to obtain tidings of Edward. 
Frank would have given his only valuable {his mother's dia- 
mond-guard, which he wore constantly) as a pledge for some 
advance of money ; but the kind Welsh people would not have 
it. They had not much spare cash, but what they had they 
readily lent to the survivors of the Anna-Maria. Dressed. 



304 THE MOORLAND COTTAGE. 

in the homely country garb of the people, Frank and Maggie 
set off in their car. It was a clear, frosty morning — the 
first that winter. The road soon lay high up on the cliffs 
along the coast. They looked down on the sea rocking be- 
low. At every village they stopped, and Frank inquired, and 
made the driver inquire in Welsh ; but no tidings gained they 
of Edward ; though here and there Maggie watched Frank 
into some cottage or other, going to see a dead body, beloved 
by some one ; and when he came out, solemn and grave, their 
sad eyes met, and she knew it was not he they sought, without 
needing words. 

At Abergele they stopped to rest ; and because, being a 
larger place, it would need a longer search, Maggie lay down 
on the sofa, for she was very weak, and shut her eyes, and 
tried not to see for ever and ever that mad struggling crowd 
lighted by the red flames. 

Frank came back in an hour or so ; and soft behind him — 
laboriously treading on tiptoe — Mr. Buxton followed. He 
was evidently choking down his sobs ; but when he saw the 
white, wan figure of Maggie he held out his arms. 

"My dear! my daughter!" he said, "God bless you!" 
He could not speak more — he was fairly crying ! but he put 
her hand in Frank's, and kept holding them both. 

"My father," said Frank, speaking in a husky voice, while 
his eyes filled with tears, * * had heard of it before he received 
ray letter. I might have known that the lighthouse signals 
would take it fast to Liverpool. I had written a few lines 
to him saying I was going to you ; happily they never reached 
— that was spared to my dear father." 

Maggie saw the look of restored confidence that passed 
between father and son. 

" My mother?" said she at last. 

" She is here," said they both at once, with sad solemnity. 

"Oh, where? Why did not you tell me?" exclaimed she, 
starting up. But their faces told her why. 

" Edward is drowned — is dead," said she, reading their looks. 

There was no answer. 

" Let me go to my mother." 

"Maggie, she is with him. His body was washed ashore 
last night. My father and she heard of it as they came along. 
Can vou bear to see her? She will not leave him." 



THE MOORLAND COTTAGE, 305 

"Take me to her," Maggie answered. 

They led her into a bedroom. Stretched on the bed lay 
Edward, but now so full of hope and worldly plans. 

Mrs. Browne looked round and saw Maggie, She did not 
get up from her place by his head ; nor did she long avert her 
gaze from his poor face. But she held Maggie's hand, as the 
girl knelt by her and spoke to her in a hushed voice, undisturbed 
by tears. Her miserable heart could not find that relief. 

" He is dead ! — he is gone ! — he will never come back again ! 
If lie had gone to America — it might have been years first — but 
he would have come back to me. But now he will never come 
back again ; never — never ! " 

Her voice died away, as the wailings of the night-wind die in 
the distance ; and there was silence — silence more sad and 
hopeless than any passionate words of grief. 

And to this day it is the same. She prizes her dead son 
more than a thousand living daughters, happy and prosperous 
as is Maggie now — rich in the love of many. If Maggie did 
not show such reverence to her mother's faithful sorrows, 
others might wonder at her refusal to be comforted by that 
sweet daughter. But Maggie treats her with such tender 
sympathy, never thinking of herself or her own claims, that 
Frank, Erminia, Mr. Buxton, Nancy, and all, are reverent 
and sympathising too. 

Over both old and young the memory of one who is dead 
broods hke a dove — of one who could do but little during her 
lifetime; who was doomed only to "stand and wait;" who 
was meekly content to be gentle, holy, patient, and undefiled — 
the memory of the invalid Mrs. Buxton. 



:? 



DISAPPEARANCES. 



I AM not in the habit of seeing the Hotisehold Words 
regularly ; but a friend, who lately sent me some of the 
back numbers, recommended me to read " all the papers relating 
to the Detective and Protective Police," which I accordingly did 
— not as the generality of readers have done, as they appeared 
WTek by week, or with pauses between, but consecutively, as a 
popular history of the Metropohtan Pohce ; and, as I suppose it 
may also be considered, a history of the police force in every 
large town in England. When I had ended these papers, I 
did not feel disposed to read any others at that time, but 
preferred falling into a train of reverie and recollection. 

First of all I remembered, with a smile, the unexpected 
manner in which a relation of mine was discovered by an 
acquaintance, who had mislaid or forgotten Mr. B.'s address. 
Now my dear cousin, Mr. B., charming as he is in many points, 
has the Httle peculiarity of liking to change his lodgings once 
every three months on an average, which occasions some 
bewilderment to his country friends, who have no sooner learnt 
the 19 Belle Vue Road, Hampstead, than they have to take 
pains to forget that address, and to remember the 27J Upper 
Brown Street, Camberwell ; and so on, till I would rather learn 
a page of " Walker's Pronouncing Dictionary," than try to 
remember the variety of directions which I have had to put on 
my letters to Mr. B. during the last three years. Last summer 
it pleased him to remove to a beautiful village not ten miles out 
of London, where there is a railway station. Thither his friend 
sought him. (I do not now speak of the following scent there 
had been through three or four different lodgings, where Mr. B. 
had been residing, before his country friend ascertained that he 

was now lodging at R .) He spent the morning in making 

inquiries as to Mr. B.'s whereabouts in the village; but many 
306 



DISAPPEARANCES. 307 

gentlemen were lodging there for the summer, and neither 
butcher nor baker could inform him where Mr. B. was staying ; 
his letters were unknown at the post-office, which was accounted 
for by the circumstance of their always being directed to his 
office in town. At last the country friend sauntered back to 
the railway-office, and while he waited for the train he made 
inquiry, as a last resource, of the book-keeper at the station. 
"No, sir, I cannot tell you where Mr. B. lodges — so many 
gentlemen go by the trains ; but I have no doubt but that the 
person standing by that pillar can inform you." The individual 
to whom he directed the inquirer's attention had the appearance 
of a tradesman — respectable enough, yet with no pretensions to 
"gentihty," and had, apparently, no more urgent employment 
than lazily watching the passengers who came dropping in to 
the station. However, when he was spoken to, he answered 
civilly and promptly. "Mr. B. ? tall gentleman, with light 
hair? Yes, sir, I know Mr. B. He lodges at No. 8 Morton 
Villas — has done these three weeks or more; but you'll not 
find him there, sir, now. He went to town by the eleven 
o'clock train, and does not usually return until the half-past 
four train." 

The country friend had no time to lose in returning to the 
village, to ascertain the truth of this statement. He thanked 
his informant, and said he would call on Mr. B. at his office 
in town ; but before he left R station, he asked the book- 
keeper who the person was to whom he had referred him for 
information as to his friend's place of residence. " One of the 
Detective Police, sir," was the answer. I need hardly say that 
Mr. B., not without a little surprise, confirmed the accuracy of 
the policeman's report in every particular. 

When I heard this anecdote of my cousin and his friend, I 
thought that there could be no more romances written on the 
same kind of plot as Caleb WiUiams ; the principal interest of 
which, to the superficial reader, consists in the alternation of 
hope and fear, that the hero may, or may not, escape his 
pursuer. It is long since I have read the story, and I forget 
the name of the offended and injured gentleman whose privacy 
Caleb has invaded ; but I know that his pursuit of Caleb — 
his detection of the various hiding-places of the latter — his 
following up of slight clues — all, in fact, depended upon his 
own energy, sagacity, and perseverance. The interest was 



3o8 DISAPPEARANCES. 

caused by the struggle of man against man ; and the un- 
certainty as to which would ultimately be successful in his 
object ; the unrelenting pursuer, or the ingenious Caleb, who 
seeks by every device to conceal himself. Now, in 1851, the 
offended master would set the Detective Police to work ; there 
would be no doubt as to their success ; the only question would 
be as to the time that would elapse before the hiding-place 
could be detected, and that could not be a question long. It 
is no longer a struggle between man and man, but between a 
vast organised machinery, and a weak, solitary individual ; we 
have no hopes, no fears — only certainty. But if the materials 
of pursuit and evasion, as long as the chase is confined to 
England, are taken away from the store-house of the romancer, 
at any rate we can no more be haunted by the idea of the 
possibility of mysterious disappearances ; and any one who 
has associated much with those who were alive at the end cf 
the last century, can testify that there was some reason for 
such fears. 

When I was a child, I was sometimes permitted to accom- 
pany a relation to drink tea with a very clever old lady, of one 
hundred and twenty — or so I thought then ; I now think she, 
perhaps, was only about seventy. She was lively, and intelligent, 
and had seen and known much that was worth narrating. She 
was a cousin of the Sneyds, the family whence Mr. Edgeworth 
took two of his wives ; had known Major Andr^ ; had mixed 
in the Old Whig Society that the beautiful Duchess of Devon- 
shire and " Buff and Blue Mrs. Crewe" gathered round them ; 
her father had been one of the early patrons of the lovely Miss 
Linley. I name these facts to show that she was too intelligent 
and cultivated by association, as well as by natural powers, to 
lend an over-easy credence to the marvellous ; and yet I have 
heard her relate stories of disappearances which haunted my 
imagination longer than any tale of wonder. One of her stories 
was this : — Her father's estate lay in Shropshire, and his park- 
gates opened right on to a scattered village of which he was 
landlord. The houses formed a straggling irregular street — 
here a garden, next a gable-end of a farm, there a row of 
cottages, and so on. Now, at the end house or cottage lived 
a very respectable man and his wife. They were well known 
in the village, and were esteemed for the patient attention 
which they paid to the husband's father, a paralytic old man. 



DISAPPEARANCES. 309 

In winter, his chair was near the fire ; in summer, they carried 
him out into the open space in front of the house to bask in 
the sunshine, and to receive what placid amusement he could 
from watching the httle passings to and fro of the villagers. 
He could not move from his bed to his chair without help. 
One hot and sultry June day, all the village turned out to the 
hay-fields. Only the very old and the very young remained. 

The old father of whom I have spoken was carried out to 
bask in the sunshine that afternoon as usual, and his son and 
daughter-in-law went to the hay-making. But when they came 
home in the early evening, their paralysed father had disappeared 
— was gone ! and from that day forwards, nothing more was 
ever heard of him. The old lady, who told this story, said, with 
the quietness that always marked the simplicity of her narration, 
that every inquiry which her father could make was made, and 
that it could never be accounted for. No one had observed any 
stranger in the village ; no small household robbery, to which 
the old man might have been supposed an obstacle, had been 
committed in his son's dwelhng that afternoon. The son and 
daughter-in-law (noted, too, for their attention to the helpless 
father) had been a-field among all the neighbours the whole of 
the time. In short, it never was accounted for ; and left a pain- 
ful impression on many minds. 

I will answer for it, the Detective Police would have ascer- 
tained every fact relating to it in a week. 

This story, from its mystery, was painful, but had no conse- 
quences to make it tragical. The next which I shall tell (and 
although traditionary, these anecdotes of disappearances which 
I relate in this paper are correctly repeated, and were believed 
by my informants to be strictly true) had consequences, and 
melancholy ones, too. The scene of it is in a little country- 
town, surrounded by the estates of several gentlemen of large 
property. About a hundred years ago there lived in this small 
town an attorney, with his mother and sister. He was agent 
for one of the squires near, and received rents for him on stated 
days, which, of course, were well known. He went at these 

times to a small public-house, perhaps five miles from , 

where the tenants met him, paid their rents, and were enter- 
tained at dinner afterwards. One night he did not return from 
this festivity. He never returned. The gentleman whose agent 
he was, employed the Dogberrys of the time to find him, and the 



3IO DISAPPEARANCES. 

missing cash ; the mother, whose support and comfort he was, 
sought him with all the perseverance of faithful love. But he 
never returned ; and by-and-by the rumour spread that he must 
have gone abroad with the money ; his mother heard the whispers 
all around her, and could not disprove it ; and so her heart broke, 
and she died. Years after, I think as many as fifty, the well-to- 
do butcher and grazier of died ; but, before his death, he 

confessed that he had waylaid Mr. on the heath, close to 

the town, almost within call of his own house, intending only 
to rob him, but meeting with more resistance than he anticipated, 
had been provoked to stab him ; and had buried him that very 
night deep under the loose sand of the heath. There his skeleton 
was found ; but too late for his poor mother to know that his 
fame was cleared. His sister, too, was dead, unmarried, for 
no one hked the possibilities which might arise from being 
connected with the family. None cared if he were guilty or 
innocent now. 

If our Detective Police had only been in existence ! 

This last is hardly a story of unaccounted-for disappearance. 
It is only unaccounted for in one generation. But disappear- 
ances never to be accounted for on any supposition are not 
uncommon among the traditions of the last century. I have 
heard (and I think I have read it in one of the earher numbers 
of Chambers s Joicrnal) of a marriage which took place in 
Lincolnshire about the year 1750. It was not then de rigiieur 
that the happy couple should set out on a wedding journey ; 
but instead, they and their friends had a merry jovial dinner 
at the house of either bride or groom ; and in this instance the 
whole party adjourned to the bridegroom's residence, and dis- 
persed, some to ramble in the garden, some to rest in the house 
until the dinner-hour. The bridegroom, it is to be supposed, 
was with his bride, when he was suddenly summoned away by 
a domestic, who said that a stranger wished to speak to him ; 
and henceforward he was never seen more. The same tradition 
hangs about an old deserted Welsh hall standing in a wood 
near Festiniog ; there, too, the bridegroom was sent for to give 
audience to a stranger on his wedding-day, and disappeared 
from the face of the earth from that time ; but there, they tell in 
addition, that the bride lived long— that she passed her three- 
score years and ten, but that daily, during all those years, while 
there was hght of sun or moon to lighten the earth, she sat 



DISAPPEARANCES. 3 1 1 

watching — watching at one particular window which com- 
manded a view of the approach to the house. Her whole 
faculties, her whole mental powers, became absorbed in that 
weary watching ; long before she died, she was childish, and 
only conscious of one wish — to sit in that long high window, 
and watch the road along which he might come. She was as 
faithful as Evangeline, if pensive and inglorious. 

That these two similar stories of disappearance on a wedding- 
day "obtained," as the French say, shows us that anything 
which adds to our facility of communication, and organisation 
of means, adds to our security of life. Only let a bridegroom 
try to disappear from an untamed Katherine of a bride, and 
he will soon be brought home, like a recreant coward, overtaken 
by the electric telegraph, and clutched back to his fate by a 
detective policeman. 

Two more stories of disappearance and I have done. I will 
give you the last in date first, because it is the most melancholy ; 
and we will wind up cheerfully (after a fashion). Some time 
between 1820 and 1830, there lived in North Shields a respect- 
able old woman, and her son, who was trying to struggle into 
sufficient knowledge of medicine to go out as ship-surgeon in 
a Baltic vessel, and perhaps in this manner to earn money 
enough to spend a session in Edinburgh. He was furthered in 
all his plans by the late benevolent Dr. G. of that town. I 
believe the usual premium was not required in his case ; the 
young man did many useful errands and offices which a finer 
young gentleman would have considered beneath him ; and he 
resided with his mother in one of the alleys (or " chares") which 
lead down from the main street of North Shields to the river. 
Dr. G. had been with a patient all night, and left her very early 
on a winter's morning to return home to bed ; but first he 
stepped down to his apprentice's home, and bade him get up, 
and follow him to his own house, where some medicine was to 
be mixed, and then taken to the lady. Accordingly, the poor 
lad came, prepared the dose, and set off with it some time 
between five and six on a winter's morning. He was never 
seen again. Dr. G. waited, thinking he was at his mother's 
house ; she waited, considering that he had gone to his day's 
work. And meanwhile, as people remembered afterwards, the 
small vessel bound to Edinburgh sailed out of port. The 
mother expected him back her whole life long ; but some years 



3 1 2 DISAPPEARANCES. 

afterwards occurred the discoveries of the Hare and Barke 
horrors, and people seemed to gain a dark gUmpse at his fate ; 
but I never heard that it was fully ascertained, or indeed more 
than surmised. I ought to add that all who knew him spoke 
emphatically as to his steadiness of purpose and conduct, so as 
to render it improbable in the highest degree that he had run 
off to sea, or suddenly changed his plan of life in any way. 

My last story is one of a disappearance which was accounted 
for after many years. There is a considerable street in Man- 
chester leading from the centre of the town to some of the 
suburbs. This street is called at one part Garratt, and after- 
wards — where it emerges into gentility and, comparatively, 
country — Brook Street. It derives its former name from an old 
black-and-white hall of the time of Richard the Third, or there- 
abouts, to judge from the style of building ; they have closed in 
what is left of the old hall now ; but a few years since this old 
house was visible from the main road ; it stood low on some 
vacant ground, and appeared to be half in ruins. I believe it 
was occupied by several poor families, who rented tenements in 
the tumble-down dwelling. But formerly it was Gerrard Hall 
(what a difference between Gerrard and Garratt !) and was sur- 
rounded by a park with a clear brook running through it, with 
pleasant fish-ponds (the name of these was preserved, until very 
lately, on a street near), orchards, dovecots, and similar appur- 
tenances to the manor-houses of former days. I am almost 
sure that the family to whom it belonged were Mosleys, pro- 
bably a branch of the tree of the Lord of the Manor of Man- 
chester. Any topographical work of the last century relating to 
their district would give the name of the last proprietor of the 
old stock, and it is to him that my story refers. 

Many years ago there lived in Manchester two old maiden 
ladies of high respectability. All their lives had been spent in 
the town, and they were fond of relating the changes which had 
taken place within their recollection, which extended back to 
seventy or eighty years from the present time. They knew 
much of its traditionary history from their father, as well ; who, 
with his father before him, had been respectable attorneys in 
Manchester, during the greater part of the last century ; they 
were, also, agents for several of the county families, who, 
driven from their old possessions by the enlargement of the 
town, found some compensation in the increased value of any 



DISAPPEARANCES. 313 

land which they might choose to sell. Consequently the 
Messrs. S., father and son, were conveyancers in good repute, 
and acquainted with several secret pieces of family history, one 
of which related to Garratt Hall. 

The owner of this estate, some time in the first half of the 
last century, married young ; he and his wife had several 
children, and lived together in a quiet state of happiness for 
many years. At last, business of some kind took the husband 
up to London ; a week's journey in those days. He wrote and 
announced his arrival ; I do not think he ever wrote again. 
He seemed to be swallowed up in the abyss of the metropolis, 
for no friend (and the lady had many powerful friends) could 
ever ascertain for her what had become of him ; the prevalent 
idea was that he had been attacked by some of the street- 
robbers who prowled about in those days, that he had resisted, 
and had been murdered. His wife gradually gave up all hopes 
of seeing him again, and devoted herself to the care of her 
children ; and so they went on, tranquilly enough, until the 
heir came of age, when certain deeds were necessary before he 
could legally take possession of the property. These deeds 
Mr. S. (the family lawyer) stated had been given up by him into 
the missing gentleman's keeping just before the last mysterious 
journey to London, with which I think they were in some way 
concerned. It was possible that they were still in existence ; 
some one in London might have them in possession, and be 
either conscious or unconscious of their importance. At any 
rate, Mr. S.'s advice to his client was that he should put an 
advertisement in the London papers, worded so skilfully that 
any one who might hold the important documents should 
understand to what it referred, and no one else. This was 
accordingly done ; and although repeated at intervals for some 
time, it met with no success. But at last a mysterious answer 
was sent; to the effect that the deeds were in existence, and 
should be given up ; but only on certain conditions, and to the 
heir himself. The young man, in consequence, went up to 
London, and adjourned, according to directions, to an old 
house in Barbican, where he was told by a man, apparently 
awaiting him, that he must submit to be blindfolded, and must 
follow his guidance. He was taken through several long 
passages before he left the house ; at the termination of one of 
these he was put into a sedan-chair, and carried about for an 



3 1 4 DISAPPEARANCES. 

hour or more ; he always reported that there were many turn- 
ings, and that he imagined he was set down finally not very far 
from his starting-point. 

When his eyes were unbandaged, he was in a decent sitting- 
room, with tokens of family occupation lying about. A middle- 
aged gentleman entered, and told him that until a certain time 
had elapsed (which should be indicated to him in a particular 
way, "but of which the length was not then named), he must 
swear to secrecy as to the means by which he obtained posses- 
sion of the deeds. This oath was taken ; and then the gentle- 
man, not without some emotion, acknowledged himself to be 
the missing father of the heir. It seems that he had fallen in 
love with a damsel, a friend of the person with whom he 
lodged. To this young woman he had represented himself as 
unmarried ; she listened willingly to his wooing, and her father, 
who was a shopkeeper in the City, was not averse to the match, 
as the Lancashire squire had a goodly presence, and many 
similar qualities, which the shopkeeper thought might be 
acceptable to his customers. The bargain was struck ; the 
descendant of a knightly race married the only daughter of the 
City shopkeeper, and became the junior partner in the business. 
He told his son that he had never repented the step he had 
taken ; that his lowly-born wife was sweet, docile, and affec- 
tionate ; that his family by her was large ; and that he and they 
were thriving and happy. He inquired after his first (or rather, 
I should say, his true) wife with friendly affection ; approved of 
wi^at she had done with regard to his estate, and the education 
of his children ; but said that he considered he was dead to her 
as she was to him. When he really died he promised that a 
particular message, the nature of which he specified, should be 
sent to his son at Garratt ; until then they would not hear more 
of each other, for it was of no use attempting to trace him 
under his incognito, even if the oath did not render such an 
attempt forbidden. I dare say the youth had no great desire 
to trace out the father, who had been one in name only. He 
returned to Lancashire ; took possession of the property at 
Manchester ; and many years elapsed before he received the 
mysterious intimation of his father's real death. After that, he 
named the particulars connected with the recovery of the title- 
deeds to Mr. S., and one or two intimate friends. W^hen the 
family became extinct, or removed from Garratt, it became no 



DISAPPEARANCES. 3 1 $ 

longer any very closely-kept secret, and I was told the tale of 
the disappearance by Miss S., the aged daughter of the family 
agent. 

Once more, let me say, I am thankful I live in the days of 
the Detective Police ; if I am murdered, or commit bigamy, 
at any rate my friends will have the comfort of knowing all 
about it. 



A correspondent has favoured us with the sequel of the dis- 
appearance of the pupil of Dr. G. , who vanished from North 
Shields, in charge of certain potions he was entrusted with, 
very early one morning, to convey to a patient: "Dr. G.'s 
son married my sister, and the young man who disappeared 
was a pupil in the house. When he went out with the medicine, 
he was hardly dressed, having merely thrown on some clothes ; 
and he went in slippers— which incidents induced the belief 
that he was made away with. After some months his family 
put on mourning; and the G.'s (very timid people) were so 
sure that he was murdered, that they wrote verses to his 
memory, and became sadly worn by terror. But, after a 
long time (I fancy, but am not sure, about a year and a half), 
came a letter from the young man, who was doing well in 
x\merica. His explanation was, that a vessel was lying at 
the wharf about to sail in the morning, and the youth, who 
had long meditated evasion, thought it a good opportunity, 
and stepped on board, after leaving the medicine at the proper 
door. I spent some weeks at Dr. G.'s after the occurrence ; 
and very doleful we used to be about it. But the next time I 
went they were, naturally, very angry with the inconsiderate 
young man." 



RIGHT AT LAST. 



DOCTOR BROWN was poor, and had to make his way 
in the world. He had gone to study his profession in 
Edinburgh, and his energy, abihty, and good conduct had 
entitled him to some notice on the part of the professors. 
Once introduced to the ladies of their families, his prepossess- 
ing appearance and pleasing manners made him a universal 
favourite, and perhaps no other student received so many 
invitations to dancing and evening parties, or was so often 
singled out to fill up an odd vacancy at the last moment at 
the dinner-table. No one knew particularly who he was, or 
where he sprang from ; but then he had no near relations, 
as he had once or twice observed ; so he was evidently not 
hampered with low-born or low-bred connections. He had 
been in mourning for his mother when he first came to college. 

All this much was recalled to the recollection of Professor 
Frazer by his niece Margaret, as she stood before him one 
morning in his study, telling him, in a low, but resolute voice, 
that the night before Doctor James Brown had offered her 
marriage — that she had accepted him — and that he was in- 
tending to call on Professor Frazer (her uncle and natural 
guardian) that very morning, to obtain his consent to their 
engagement. Professor Frazer was perfectly aware, from 
Margaret's manner, that his consent was regarded by her as 
a mere form, for that her mind was made up : and he had 
more than once had occasion to find out how inflexible she 
could be. Yet he, too, was of the same blood, and held to his 
own opinions in the same obdurate manner. The consequence 
of which frequently was, that uncle and niece had argued them- 
selves into mutual bitterness of feeling, without altering each 
other's opinions one jot. But Professor Frazer could not 
restrain himself on this occasion of all others. 
316 



RIGHT AT LAST. 317 

"Then, Margaret, you will just quietly settle down to be a 
beggar, for that lad Brown has little or no money to think of 
marrying upon : you that might be my Lady Kennedy, if you 
would." 

" I could not, uncle." 

" Nonsense, child. Sir Alexander is a personable and agree- 
able man — middle-aged, if you will — well, a wilful woman maun 
have her way ; but if I had had a notion that this youngster 
was sneaking into my house to cajole you into fancying him, 
I would have seen him far enough before I had ever let your 
aunt invite him to dinner. Ay ! you may mutter ; but I say 
no gentleman would ever have come into my house to seduce 
my niece's affections, without first informing me of his intentions, 
and asking my leave." 

" Doctor Brown is a gentleman, Uncle Frazer, whatever you 
may think of him." 

" So you think — so you think. But who cares for the opinion 
of a love-sick girl ? He is a handsome, plausible young fellow, 
of good address. And I don't mean to deny his ability. But 
there is something about him I never did like, and now it's 

accounted for. And Sir Alexander Well, well ! your aunt 

will be disappointed in you, Margaret. But you were always a 
headstrong girl. Has this Jamie Brown ever told you who or 
what his parents were, or where he comes from ? I don't ask 
about his forbears, for he does not look like a lad who has ever 
had ancestors : and you a Frazer of Lovat ! Fie, for shame, 
Margaret ! Who is this Jamie Brown ?" 

" He is James Brown, Doctor of Medicine of the University 
of Edinburgh : a good, clever young man, whom I love with 
my whole heart," replied Margaret, reddening. 

* * Hoot ! is that the way for a maiden to speak ? Where does 
he come from ? Who are his kinsfolk ? Unless he can give a 
pretty good account of his family and prospects, I shall just 
bid him begone, Margaret, and that I tell you fairly." 

" Uncle" (her eyes were fiUing with hot indignant tears), " I 
am of age ; you know he is good and clever ; else why have 
you had him so often to your house? I marry him, and not his 
kinsfolk. He is an orphan. I doubt if he has any relations 
that he keeps up with. He has no brothers nor sisters. I don't 
care where he comes from." 

"What was his f;ither?" asked Professor Frazer coldly. 



3l8 RIGHT AT LAST. 

" I don't know. Why should I go pr3ang into every particu* 
lar of his family, and asking who his father was, and what was 
the maiden name of his mother, and when his grandmother was 
married?' 

' ' Yet I think I have heard Miss Margaret Frazer speak up 
pretty strongly in favour of a long line of unspotted ancestry." 

"I had forgotten our own, I suppose, when I spoke so. 
Simon, Lord Lovat, is a creditable great-uncle to the Frazers ! 
If all tales be true, he ought to have been hanged for a felon, 
instead of beheaded like a loyal gentleman." 

*' Oh ! if you're determined to foul your own nest, I have done. 
Let James Brown come in ; I will make him my bow, and thank 
him for condescending to marry a Frazer." 

"Uncle," said Margaret, now fairly crying, "don't let us 
part in angor. We love each other in our hearts. You have 
been good to me, and so has my aunt. But I have given my 
word to Doctor Brown, and I must keep it. I should love him 
if he was the son of a ploughman. We don't expect to be rich ; 
but he has a few hundreds to start with, and I have my own 
hundred a year" 

"Well, well, child, don't cry. You have settled it all for 
yourself, it seems ; so I wash my hands of it. I shake off all 
responsibility. You will tell your aunt what arrangements you 
make with Doctor Brown about your marriage, and I will do 
what you wish in the matter. But don't send the young man 
in to me to ask my consent. I neither give it nor withhold it. 
It would have been different if it had been Sir Alexander." 

•' Oh ! Uncle Frazer, don't speak so. See Doctor Brown, and 
at any rate — for my sake — tell him you consent. Let me be- 
long to you that much. It seems so desolate at such a time to 
have to dispose of myself" as if nobody owned or cared for me." 

The door was thrown open, and Doctor James Brown was 
announced. Margaret hastened away ; and, before he was 
aware, the Professor had given a sort of consent, without asking 
a question of the happy young man, v/ho hurried away to seek 
his betrothed ; leaving her uncle muttering to himself. 

Both Doctor and Mrs. Frazer were so strongly opposed to 
Margaret's engagement, in reality, that they could not help 
showing it by manner and imphcation ; although they had the 
grace to keep silent. But Margaret felt even more keenly than 
her lover that he was not welcome in the house. Her pleasure 



RIGHT AT LAST. 319 

in seeing him was destroyed by her sense of the coldness with 
which he was received ; and she wilhngly yielded to his desire 
of a short engagement ; which was contrary to their original 
plan of waiting until he should be settled in practice in London, 
and should see his way clear to such an income as would render 
their marriage a prudent step. Doctor and Mrs. Frazer neither 
objected nor approved. Margaret would rather have had the 
most vehement opposition than this icy coldness. But it made 
her turn with redoubled affection to her warm-hearted and 
sympathising lover. Not that she had ever discussed her uncle 
and aunt's behaviour with him. As long as he was apparently 
unaware of it, she would not awaken him to a sense of it. Be- 
sides, they had stood to her so long in the relation of parents, 
that she felt she had no right to bring in a stranger to sit in 
judgment upon them. 

So it v/as rather with a heavy heart that she arranged their 
future minage with Doctor Brown ; unable to profit by her 
aunt's experience and wisdom. But Margaret herself was a 
prudent and sensible girl. Although accustomed to a degree 
of comfort in her uncle's house that almost amounted to luxury, 
she could resolutely dispense with it when occasion required. 
When Doctor Brown started for London, to seek and prepare 
their new home, she enjoined him not to make any but the 
most necessary preparations for her reception. She would her- 
self superintend all that was wanting when she came. He had 
some old furniture, stored up in a warehouse, which had been 
his mother's. He proposed selling it, and buying new in its 
place. Margaret persuaded him not to do this ; but to make 
it go as far as it could. The household of the nevvly-married 
couple was to consist of a Scotchwoman long connected with 
the Frazer family, who was to be the sole female servant ; and 
of a man whom Doctor Brown picked up in London, soon after 
he had fixed on a house — a man named Crawford, who had 
lived for many years with a gentleman now gone abroad, who 
gave him the most excellent character, in reply to Doctor 
Brown's inquiries. This gentleman had employed Crawford 
in a number of ways ; so that in fact he was a kind of Jack-of- 
all-trades ; and Doctor Brown, in every letter to Margaret, had 
some new accomplishment of his servant's to relate, which he 
did with the more fulness and zest, because Margaret had 
slightly questioned the wisdom of starting in life with a man- 



320 RIGHT AT LAST. 

servant ; but had yielded to Doctor Brown's arguments on the 
necessity of keeping up a respectable appearance, making a 
decent show, &c., to any one who might be inclined to consult 
him, but be daunted by the appearance of old Christie out of 
the kitchen, and unwilling to leave a message with one who 
spoke such unintelligible English. Crawford was so good a 
carpenter that he could put up shelves, adjust faulty hinges, 
mend locks, and even went the length of constructing a box of 
some old boards that had once formed a packing-case. Craw- 
ford one day, when his master was too busy to go out for his 
dinner, improvised an omelette as good as any Doctor Brown 
had ever tasted in Paris, when he was studying there. In short, 
Crawford was a kind of Admirable Crichton in his way, and 
Margaret was quite convinced that Doctor Brown was right 
in his decision that they must have a man-servant ; even before 
she was respectfully greeted by Crawford as he opened the door 
to the newly-married couple, when they came to their new home 
after their short wedding tour. 

Doctor Brown was rather afraid lest Margaret should think 
the house bare and cheerless in its half-furnished state ; for he 
had obeyed her injunctions and bought as little furniture as 
might be, in addition to the few things he had inherited from 
his mother. His consulting-room (how grand it sounded !) 
was completely arranged, ready for stray patients ; and it was 
well calculated to make a good impression on them. There 
was a Turkey carpet on the floor, that had been his mother's, 
and was just sufficiently worn to give it the air of respec- 
tability which handsome pieces of furniture have when they 
look as if they had not just been purchased for the occasion, 
but are in some degree hereditary. The same appearance 
pervaded the room : the hbrary-table (bought second-hand, it 
must be confessed), the bureau — that had been his mother's — 
the leather chairs (as hereditary as the library-table), the shelves 
Crawford had put up for Doctor Brown's medical books, a 
good engraving on the walls, gave altogether so pleasant an 
aspect to the apartment that both Doctor and Mrs. Brown 
thought, for that evening at any rate, that poverty was just as 
comfortable a thing as riches. Crawford had ventured to take 
the liberty of placing a few flowers about the room, as his 
humble way of welcoming his mistress— late autumn flowers, 
blending the idea of summer with that of winter suggested by 



RIGHT AT LAST. 321 

the bright httle fire in the grate. Christie sent up dehcious 
scones for tea ; and Mrs. Frazer had made up for her want of 
geniahty as well as she could by a store of marmalade and 
mutton hams. Doctor Brown could not be easy even in his 
comfort until he had shown Margaret, almost with a groan, 
how many rooms were as yet unfurnished — how much re- 
mained to be done. But she laughed at his alarm lest she 
should be disappointed in her new home ; declared that she 
should like nothing better than planning and contriving ; that, 
what with her own talent for upholstery and Crawford's for 
joinery, the rooms should be furnished as if by magic, and no 
bills— the usual consequences of comfort — be forthcoming. But 
with the morning and daylight Doctor Brown's anxiety returned. 
He saw and felt every crack in the ceiling, every spot on the 
paper, not for himself, but for Margaret. He was constantly 
in his own mind, as it seemed, comparing the home he had 
brought her to with the one she had left. He seemed con- 
stantly afraid lest she had repented, or would repent having 
married him. This morbid restlessness was the only drawback 
to their great happiness ; and, to do away with it, Margaret 
was led into expenses much beyond her original intention. She 
bought this article in preference to that, because her husband^ 
if he went shopping with her, seemed so miserable if he sus- 
pected that she denied herself the slightest wish on the score 
of economy. She learnt to avoid taking him out with her when 
she went to make her purchases, as it was a very simple thing 
to her to choose the least expensive thing, even though it were 
the ughest, when she was by herself, but not a simple painless 
thing to harden her heart to his look of mortification when she 
quietly said to the shopman that she could not afford this or 
that. On coming out of a shop after one of these occasions, 
he had said — 

' ' O Margaret, I ought not to have married you. You must 
forgive me — I have so loved you." 

"Forgive you, James?" said she. "For making me so 
happy? What should make you think I care so much for rep 
in preference to moreen? Don't speak so again, please." 

" O Margaret ! but don't forget how I ask you to forgive 
me." 

Crawford was everything that he had promised to be, and 
more than could be desired. He was Margaret's right hand in 

L 



322 RIGHT AT LAST. 

all her little household plans, in a way which irritated Christie 
not a little. This feud between Christie and Crawford was 
indeed the greatest discomfort in the household. Crawford 
was silently triumphant in his superior knowledge of London, 
in his favour upstairs, in his power of assisting his mistress, 
and in the consequent privilege of being frequently consulted. 
Christie was for ever regretting Scotland, and hinting at Mar- 
garet's neglect of one who had followed her fortunes into a 
strange country, to make a favourite of a stranger, and one 
who was none so good as he ought to be, as she would some- 
times affirm. But, as she never brought any proof of her 
vague accusations, Margaret did not choose to question her, but 
set them down to a jealousy of her fellow-servant, which the 
mistress did all in her power to heal. On the whole, however, 
the four people forming this family lived together in tolerable 
harmony. Doctor Brown w^as more than satisfied with his 
house, his servants, his professional prospects, and most of all 
with his little energetic wife. Margaret, from time to time, 
was taken by certain moods of her husband's ; but the tendency 
of these moods was not to weaken her affection, rather to call 
out a feehng of pity for what appeared to her morbid sufferings 
and suspicions — a pity ready to be turned into sympathy, as 
soon as she could discover any definite cause for his occa- 
sional depression of spirits. Christie did not pretend to like 
Crawford ; but as Margaret quietly declined to listen to her 
grumblings and discontent on this head, and as Crawford him- 
self was almost painfully solicitous to gain the good opinion of 
the old Scotch woman, there was no rupture between them. 
On the whole, the popular, successful Doctor Brown was 
apparently the most anxious person in his family. There could 
be no great cause for this as regarded his money affairs. By 
one of those lucky accidents which sometimes lift a man up out 
of his struggles, and carry him on to smooth unencumbered 
ground, he made a great step in his professional progress, and 
their income from this source was likely to be fully as much 
as Margaret and he had ever anticipated in their most san- 
guine moments, with the likelihood, too, of steady increase as 
the years went on. 

I must explain myself more fully on this head. 

Margaret herself had rather more than a hundred a year; 
sometimes, indeed, her dividends had amounted to a hundred 



RIGHT AT LAST. 323 

and thirty or forty pounds ; but on that she dared not rely. 
Doctor Brown had seventeen hundred remaining of the three 
thousand left him by his mother ; and out of this he had to pay 
for some of the furniture, the bills for which had not been sent 
in at the time, in spite of all Margaret's entreaties that such 
might be the case. They came in about a week before the time 
when the events I am going to narrate took place. Of course 
they amounted to more than even the prudent Margaret had 
expected, and she was a little dispirited to find how much 
money it would take to hquidate them. But, curiously and 
contradictorily enough — as she had often noticed before — any 
real cause for anxiety or disappointment did not seem to affect 
her husband's cheerfulness. He laughed at her dismay over her 
accounts, jingled the proceeds of that day's work in his pockets, 
counted it out to her, and calculated the year's probable income 
from that day's gains. Margaret took the guineas, and carried 
them upstairs to her own secretaire in silence ; having learnt 
the difficult art of trying to swallow down her household cares 
in the presence of her husband. When she came back she was 
cheerful, if grave. He had taken up the bills in her absence, 
and had been adding them together. 

"Two hundred and thirty-six pounds," he said, putting the 
accounts away to clear the table for tea, as Crawford brought in 
the things. "Why, I don't call that much. I believe I reckoned 
on their coming to a great deal more. I'll go into the City to- 
morrow, and sell out some shares, and set your little heart at 
ease. Now don't go and put a spoonful less tea in to-night to 
help to pay these bills. Earning is better than saving, and I am 
earning at a famous rate. Give me good tea, Maggie, for I have 
done a good day's work." 

They were sitting in the doctor's consulting-room, for the 
better economy of fire. To add to Margaret's discomfort, the 
chimney smoked this evening. She had held her tongue from 
any repining words ; for she remembered the old proverb about 
a smoky chimney and a scolding wife ; but she was more 
irritated by the puffs of smoke coming over her pretty white 
work than she cared to show ; and it was in a sharper tone than 
usual that she spoke, in bidding Crawford take care and have 
the chimney swept. The next morning all had cleared brightly 
off. Her husband had convinced her that their money matters 
were going on well ; the fire burned briskly at breakfast time, 



3^4 RIGHT AT LAST. 

and the unwonted sun shone in at the windows. Margaret was 
surprised when Crawford told her that he had not been able to 
meet with a chimney-sweeper that morning, but that he had 
tried to arrange the coals in the grate so that, for this one 
morning at least, his mistress should not be annoyed, and, by 
the next, he would take care to secure a sweep. Margaret 
thanked him, and acquiesced in all plans about giving a general 
cleaning to the room, the more readily because she felt that she 
had spoken sharply the night before. She decided to go and 
pay all her bills, and make some distant calls on the next 
morning ; and her husband promised to go into the City and 
provide her with the money. 

This he did. He showed her the notes that evening, locked 
them up for the night in his bureau ; and, lo, in the morning 
they were gone ! They had breakfasted in the back parlour, 
or half- furnished dining-room. A charwoman was in the front 
room, cleaning after the sweeps. Doctor Brown went to his 
bureau, singing an old Scotch tune as he left the dining- 
room. It was so long before he came back, that Margaret 
went to look for him. He was sitting in the chair nearest to 
the bureau, leaning his head upon it, in an attitude of the 
deepest despondency. He did not seem to hear Margaret's 
step, as she made her way among rolled-up carpets and chairs 
piled on each other. She had to touch him on the shoulder 
before she could rouse him. 

"James, James ! " she said in alarm. 

He looked up at her almost as if he did not know her. 

"O Margaret !" he said, and took hold of her hands, and 
hid his face in her neck. 

"Dearest love, what is it?" she asked, thinking he was 
suddenly taken ill. 

"Some one has been to my bureau since last night," he 
groaned, without either looking up or moving. 

"And taken the money," said Margaret, in an instant under- 
standing how it stood. It was a great blow ; a great loss, far 
greater than the few extra pounds by which the bills had 
exceeded her calculations : yet it seemed as if she could bear it 
better. " O dear ! " she said, " that is bad ; but after all — Do 
you know," she said, trying to raise his face, so that she might 
look into it, and give him the encouragement of her honest 
loving eyes, " at first I thought you were deadly ill, and all sorts 



RIGHT AT LAST. 32$ 

of dreadful possibilities rushed through my mind— it is such a 
relief to find that it is only money" 

"Only money!" he echoed sadly, avoiding her look, as if 
he could' not bear to show her how much he felt it. 

" And after all," she said with spirit, " it can't be gone far. 
Only last night here. The chimney-sweeps — we must send 
Crawford for the police directly. You did not take the numbers 
of the notes ?" ringing the bell as she spoke. 

"No ; they were only to be in our possession one night," he said. 

" No, to be sure not." 

The charwoman now appeared at the door with her pail of 
hot water. Margaret looked into her face, as if to read guilt 
or innocence. She was a frot^gde of Christie's, who was not 
apt to accord her favour easily, or without good grounds ; an 
honest, decent widow, with a large family to maintain by her 
labour — that w^s the character \n which Margaret had engaged 
her ; and she looked it. Grimy in her dress — because she 
could not spare the money or time to be clean — her skin looked 
healthy and cared for ; she had a straightforward, business-like 
appearance about her, and seemed in no ways daunted nor 
surprised to see Doctor and Mrs. Brown standing in the middle 
of the room, in displeased perplexity and distress. She went 
about her business without taking any particular notice of 
them. Margaret's suspicions settled down yet more distinctly 
upon the chimney-sweeper ; but he could not have gone far, 
the notes could hardly have got into circulation. Such a sum 
could not have been spent by such a man in so short a time, 
and the restoration of the money was her first, her only object. 
She had scarcely a thought for subsequent duties, such as 
prosecution of the offender, and the like consequences of crime. 
While her whole energies were bent on the speedy recovery of 
the money, and she was rapidly going over the necessary steps 
to be taken, her husband "sat all poured out into his chair," 
^s the Germans say ; no force in him to keep his limbs in 
any attitude requiring the slightest exertion ; his face sunk, 
miserable, and with that foreshadowing of the lines of age 
which sudden distress is apt to call out on the youngest and 
smoothest faces. 

" What can Crawford be about ?" said Margaret, pulling the 
bell again with vehemence. "O Crawford!" as the man at 
that instant appeared at the door. 



326 RIGHT AT LAST. 

"Is anything the matter?" he said, interrupting her, as if 
alarmed into an unusual discomposure by her violent ringing. 
" I had just gone round the corner with the letter master gave 
me last night for the post, and when I came back 'Christie 
told me you had rung for me, ma'am. I beg your pardon, 
but I have hurried so," and, indeed, his breath did come 
quickly, and his face was full of penitent anxiety. 

" O Crawford ! I am afraid the sweep has got into your 
master's bureau, and taken all the money he put there last 
night. It is gone, at any rate. Did you ever leave him in the 
room alone ? " 

" I can't say, ma'am ; perhaps I did. Yes ; I believe I did. 
I remember now — I had my work to do ; and I thought the 
charwoman was come, and I went to my pantry ; and some 
time after Christie came to me, complaining that Mrs. Roberts 
was so late ; and then I knew that he must have been alone 
in the room. But, dear me, ma'am, who would have thought 
there had been so much wickedness in him?" 

" How was it that he got into the bureau?" said Margaret, 
turning to her husband. " Was the lock broken ? " 

He roused himself up, like one who wakens from sleep. 

" Yes ! No ! I suppose I had turned the key without locking 
it last night. The bureau was closed, not locked, when I went 
to it this morning, and the bolt was shot." He relapsed into> 
inactive, thoughtful silence. 

"At any rate, it is no use losing time in wondering now. 
Go, Crawford, as fast as you can, for a policeman. You know 
the name of the chimney-sweeper, of course," she added, as 
Crawford was preparing to leave the room. 

" Indeed, ma'am, I'm very sorry, but I just agreed with 
the first who was passing along the street. If I could have 
known " • 

But Margaret had turned away with an impatient gesture 
of despair. Crawford went, without another word, to seek a 
policeman. 

In vain did his wife try and persuade Doctor Brown to taste 
any breakfast ; a cup of tea was all he would try to swallow, 
and that was taken in hasty gulps, to clear his dry throat, as 
he heard Crawford's voice talking to the policeman whom he 
was ushering in. 

The policeman heard all and said little. Then the inspector 



RIGHT AT LAST. 527 

came. Doctor Brown seemed to leave all the talking to 
Crawford, who apparently liked nothing better. Margaret was 
infinitely distressed and dismayed by the effect the robbery 
seemed to have on her husband's energies. The probable loss 
of such a sum was bad enough, but there was something so 
weak and poor in character, in letting it affect him so strongly 
— to deaden all energy and destroy all hopeful spring, that 
although Margaret did not dare to define her feeling, nor the 
cause of it, to herself, she had the fact before her perpetually, 
that, if she were to judge of her husband from this morning 
only, she must learn to rely on herself alone in all cases of 
emergency. The inspector repeatedly turned from Crawford to 
Doctor and Mrs. Brown for answers to his inquiries. It was 
Margaret who replied, with terse, short sentences, very different 
from Crawford's long, involved explanations. 

At length the inspector asked to speak to her alone. She 
followed him into the room, past the affronted Crawford and 
her despondent husband. The inspector gave one sharp look 
at the charwoman, who was going on with her scouring with 
stolid indifference, turned her out, and then asked Margaret 
where Crawford came from — how long he had lived with them, 
and various oiher questions, all showing the direction his sus- 
picions had taken. This shocked Margaret extremely ; but 
she quickly answered every inquiry ; and, at the end, watched 
the inspector's face closely, and waited for the avowal of the 
suspicion. 

He led the way back to the other room without a word, 
however. Crawford had left, and Doctor Brown was trying 
to read the morning's letters (which had just been delivered), 
but his hands shook so much that he could not see a line. 

"Doctor Brown," said the inspector, "I have little doubt 
that your man-servant has committed this robbery. I judge 
so from his whole manner ; and from his anxiety to tell the 
story, and his way of trying to throw suspicion on the chimney- 
sweeper, neither whose name nor dwelling can he give ; at least 
he says not. Your wife tells us he has already been out of the 
house this morning, even before he went to summon a policeman ; 
so there is little doubt that he has found means for concealing 
or disposing of the notes ; and you say you do not know the 
numbers. However, that can probably be ascertained." 

At this moment Christie knocked at the door, and, in a state 



328 RIGHT AT LAST. 

of great agitation, demanded to speak to Margaret. She 
brought up an additional store of suspicious circumstances, 
none of them much in themselves, but all tending to criminate 
her fellow-servant. She had expected to find herself blamed 
for starting the idea of Crawford's guilt, and was rather sur- 
prised to find herself listened to with attention by the inspector. 
This led her to tell many other little things, all bearing against 
Crawford, which a dread of being thought jealous and quarrel- 
some had led her to conceal before from her master and mistress. 
At the end of her story the inspector said — 

" There can be no doubt of the course to be taken. You, sir, 
must give your man-servant in charge. He will be taken before 
the sitting magistrate directly ; and there is already evidence 
F.nough to make him be remanded for a week ; during which 
lime we may trace the notes, and complete the chain." 

"Must I prosecute?" said Doctor Brown, almost lividly pale. 
'" It is, I own, a serious loss of money to me ; but there will 
be the further expenses of the prosecution — the loss of time — 
the " 

He stopped. He saw his wife's indignant eyes fixed upon him ; 
and shrunk from their look of unconscious reproach. 

" Yes, inspector," he said ; " I give him in charge. Do what 
you will. Do what is right. Of course I take the consequences. 
We take the consequences. Don't we, Margaret?" He spoke 
m a kind of wild, low voice ; of which Margaret thought it best 
to take no notice. 

" Tell us exactly what to do," she said very coldly and quietly, 
addressing herself to the policeman. 

He gave her the necessary directions as to their attending at 
the police-office, and bringing Christie as a witness, and then 
went away to take measures for securing Crawford. 

Margaret was surprised to find how little hurry or violence 
needed to be used in Crawford's arrest. She had expected 
to hear sounds of commotion in the house, if indeed Crawford 
himself had not taken the alarm and escaped. But when she 
liad suggested the latter apprehension to the inspector he smiled, 
and told her that when he had first heard of the charge from 
the policeman on the beat, he had stationed a detective officer 
within sight of the house, to watcli all ingress or egress ; so that 
Crawford's whereabouts would soon have been discovered if he 
iad attempted to escape. 



RIGHT AT LAST. 329 

Margaret's attention was now directed to her husband. He 
was making hurried preparations for setting off on his round 
of visits, and evidently did not wish to have any conversation 
with her on the subject of the morning's event. He promised 
to be back by eleven o'clock ; before which time, the inspector 
assured them, their presence would not be needed. Once or 
twice Doctor Brown said, as if to himself, "It is a miserable 
business." Indeed, Margaret felt it to be so ; and now that 
the necessity for immediate speech and action was over, she 
began to fancy that she must be very hard-hearted — very deficient 
in common feeling ; inasmuch as she had not suffered like her 
husband, at the discovery that the servant — whom they had 
been learning to consider as a friend, and to look upon as 
having their interests so warmly at heart— was, in all proba- 
bility, a treacherous thief. She remembered all his pretty marks 
of attention to her, from the day when he had welcomed her 
arrival at her new home by his humble present of flowers, until 
only the day before, when, seeing her fatigued, he had, unasked, 
made her a cup of coffee — coffee such as none but he could 
make. How often had he thought of warm dry clothes for 
her husband ; how wakeful had he been at nights ; how diligent 
in the mornings ! It was no wonder that her husband felt this 
discovery of domestic treason acutely. It was she who was hard 
and selfish, and thinking more of the recovery of the money 
than of the terrible disappointment in character, if the charge 
against Crawford were true. 

At eleven o'clock her husband returned with a cab. Christie 
had thought the occasion of appearing at a police-office worthy 
of her Sunday clothes, and was as smart as her possessions 
could make her. But Margaret and her husband looked as pale 
and sorrow-stricken as if they had been the accused, and not 
the accusers. 

Doctor Brown shrank from meeting Crawford's eye, as the 
one took his place in the witness-box, the other in the dock. 
Yet Crawford was trying — Margaret was sure of this — to catch 
his master's attention. Failing that, he looked at Margaret 
with an expression she could not fathom. Indeed, the whole 
character of his face was changed. Instead of the calm, smooth 
look of attentive obedience, he had assumed an insolent, 
threatening expression of defiance ; smiling occasionally in a 
most unpleasant manner, as Doctor Brown spoke of the bureau 

L 2 



330 RIGHT AT LAST. 

and its contents. He was remanded for a week ; but, the 
evidence as yet being far from conclusive, bail for his appearance 
was taken. This bail was offered by his brother, a respectable 
tradesman, well known in his neighbourhood, and to whom 
Crawford had sent on his arrest. 

So Crawford was at large again, much to Christie's dismay ; 
who took off her Sunday clothes, on her return home, with a 
heavy heart, hoping, rather than trusting, that they should not 
all be murdered in their beds before the week was out. It must 
be confessed, Margaret herself was not entirely free from fears 
of Crawford's vengeance ; his eyes had looked so maliciously 
and vindictively at her and at her husband as they gave their 
evidence. 

But his absence in the household gave Margaret enough to 
do to prevent her dwelling on foolish fears. His being away 
made a terrible blank in their daily comfort, which neither 
Margaret nor Christie— exert themselves as they would — could 
fill up ; and it was the more necessary that all should go on 
smoothly, as Doctor Brown's nerves had received such a shock 
at the discovery of the guilt of his favourite, trusted servant, 
that Margaret was led at times to apprehend a serious illness. 
He would pace about the room at night, when he thought she 
was asleep, moaning to himself — and in the morning would 
require the utmost persuasion to induce him to go out and see 
his patients. He was worse than ever after consulting the 
lawyer whom he had employed to conduct the prosecution. 
There was, as Margaret was brought unwillingly to perceive^ 
some mystery in the case ; for he eagerly took his letters from 
the post, going to the door as soon as he heard the knock, and 
concealing their directions from her. As the week passed away, 
his nervous misery still increased. 

One evening — the candles were not lighted — he was sitting 
over the fire in a listless attitude, resting his head on his hand, 
and that supported on his knee, — Margaret determined to try 
an experiment, to see if she could not probe, and find out the 
nature of the sore that he hid with such constant care. She 
took a stool and sat down at his feet, taking his hand in hers. 

"Listen, dearest James, to an old story I once heard. It 
may interest you. There were two orphans, boy and girl in 
their hearts, though they were a young man and young woman 
in years. They were not brother and sister, and by-and-by 



RIGHT AT LAST. 33 1 

they fell in love ; just in the same fond silly way you and I did, 
you remember. Well, the girl was amongst her own people, 
but the boy was far away from his — if indeed he had any alive. 
But the girl loved him so- dearly for himself, that sometimes she 
thought she was glad that he had no one to care for him but 
just her alone. Her friends did not like him as much as she 
did ; for, perhaps, they were wise, grave, cold people, and she, 
I dare say, was very foolish. And they did not like her marry- 
ing the boy ; which was just stupidity in them, for they had 
not a word to say against him. But, about a week before the 
marriage-day was fixed, they thought they had found out some- 
thing—my darling love, don't take away your hand— don't 
tremble so, only just listen ! Her aunt came to her and said : 
' Child, you must give up your lover : his father was tempted, 
and sinned, and if he is now alive he is a transported convict. 
The marriage cannot take place.* But the girl stood up and 
said : ' If he has known this great sorrow and shame, he needs 
my love all the more. I will not leave him, nor forsake him, 
but love him all the better. And I charge you, aunt, as you 
hope to receive a blessing for doing as you would be done by, 
that you tell no one ! ' I really think that girl awed her aunt, 
in some strange way, into secrecy. But, when she was left 
alone, she cried long and sadly to think what a shadow rested 
on the heart she loved so dearly, and she meant to strive to 
lighten the life, and to conceal for ever that she had heard of 
the burden ; but now she thinks — Oh, my husband ! how you 
must have suffered " — as he bent down his head on her shoulder 
and cried terrible man's tears. 

" God be thanked ! " he said at length. "You know all, and 
you do not shrink from me. Oh, what a miserable, deceitful 
coward I have been ! Suffered ! Yes — suffered enough to drive 
me mad ; and if I had but been brave, I might have been 
spared all this long twelve months of agony. But it is right 
I should have been punished. And you knew it even before we 
were married, when you might have been drawn back." 

•' I could not : you would not have broken off your engage- 
ment with me, would you, under the like circumstances, if our 
cases had been reversed ? " 

" I do not know. Perhaps I might, for I am not so brave, 
so good, so strong as you, my Margaret. How could I be? 
Let me tell you more : We wandered about, my mother and I, 



332 RIGHT AT LAST. 

thankful that our name was such a common one, but shrinking 
from every allusion — in a way which no one can understand, 
who has not been conscious of an inward sore. Living in an 
assize town was torture : a commercial one was nearly as bad. 
My father was the son of a dignified clergyman, well known 
to his brethren : a cathedral town was to be avoided, because 
there the circumstance of the Dean of Saint Botolph's son having 
been transported was sure to be known. I had to be educated ; 
therefore we had to live in a town ; for my mother could not 
bear to part from me, and I was sent to a day-school. We 
were very poor for our station — no ! we had no station ; we 
were the wife and child of a convict — for my poor mother's 
early habits, I should have said. But, when I was about 
fourteen, my father died in his exile, leaving, as convicts in 
those days sometimes did, a large fortune. It all came to us. 
My mother shut herself up, and cried and prayed for a whole 
day. Then she called me in, and took me into her counsel. 
We solemnly pledged ourselves to give the money to some 
charity, as soon as I was legally of age. Till then the interest 
was laid by, every penny of it ; though sometimes we were in 
sore distress for money, my education cost so much. But how 
could we tell in what way the money had been accumulated?" 
Here he dropped his voice. "Soon after I was one-and- 
twenty, the papers rang with admiration of the unknown muni- 
ficent donor of certain sums. I loathed their praises. I shrank 
from all recollection of my father. I remembered him dimly, 
but always as angry and violent with my mother. My poor, 
gentle mother ! Margaret, she loved my father ; and, for her 
sake, I have tried, since her death, to feel kindly towards his 
memory. Soon after my mother's death, I came to know you, 
my jewel, my treasure ! " 

After a while, he began again. "But, O Margaret! even 
now you do not know the worst. After my mother's death, 
I found a bundle of law papers — of newspaper reports about 
my father's trial. Poor soul ! why she had kept them, I cannot 
say. They were covered over with notes in her handwriting ; 
and, for that reason, I kept them. It was so touching to read 
her record of the days spent by her in her solitary innocence, 
while he was embroiling himself deeper and deeper in crime. 
I kept this bundle (as I thought so safely !) in a secret drawer 
of my bureau ; but that wretch Crawford has got hold of it. 



RIGHT AT LAST. 333 

I missed the papers that very morning. The loss of them was 
iniinitely worse than the loss of the money ; and now Crawford 
threatens to bring out the one terrible fact, in open court, if 
he can ; and his lawyer may do it, I believe. At any rate, to 
have it blazoned out to the world — I who have spent my life 
in fearing this hour ! But most of all for you, Margaret 1 Still 
— if only it could be avoided ! Who will employ the son of 
Brown, the noted forger? I shall lose all my practice. Men 
will look askance at me as I enter their doors. They will drive 
me into crime. I sometimes fear that crime is hereditary ! O 
Margaret ! what am I to do ? " 

" What can you do? " she asked. 

" I can refuse to prosecute." 

' ' Let Crawford go free, you knowing him to be guilty ? " 

" I know him to be guilty," 

**Then, simply, you cannot do this thing. You let loose 
a criminal upon the public." 

"But if I do not, we shall come to shame and poverty. 
It is for you I mind it, not for myself. I ought never to 
have married," 

"Listen to me. I don't care for poverty; and, as to 
shame, I should feel it twenty times more grievously if you 
and I consented to screen the guilty, from any fear or for 
any selfish motives of our own. I don't pretend that I shall 
not feel it, when first the truth is known. But my shame 
will turn into pride, as I watch you live it down. You have 
been rendered morbid, dear husband, by having something 
all y(Dur life to conceal. Let the world know the truth, and 
say the worst. You will. go forth a free, honest, honourable 
man, able to do your future work without fear." 

"That scoundrel Crawford has sent for an answer to his 
impudent note," said Christie, putting in her head at the 
door. 

' ' Stay ! May / write it ? '' said Margaret. 

She wrote : — 

"Whatever you may do or say, there is but one course open to us. 
No threats can deter your master from doing his duty. 

" Margaret Brown.'* 

"There!" she said, passing it to her husband ; " he will 



334 RIGHT AT LAST. 

see that I know all, and I suspect he has reckoned some- 
thing on your tenderness for me." 

Margaret's note only enraged, it did not daunt, Crawford. 
Before a week was out, every one who cared knew that Doctor 
Brown, the rising young physician, was son of the notorious 
Brown, the forger. All the consequences took place which 
he had anticipated. Crawford had to suffer a severe sentence ; 
and Doctor Brown and his wife had to leave their house and 
go to a smaller one ; they had to pinch and to screw, aided 
in all most zealously by the faithful Christie. But Doctor 
Brown was lighter-hearted than he had ever been before in 
his conscious Hfetime. His foot was now firmly planted on 
the ground, and every step he rose was a sure gain. People 
did say that Margaret had been seen, in those worst times, 
on her hands and knees cleaning her own door-step. But I 
don't believe it, for Christie would never have let her do 
that. And, as far as my own evidence goes, I can only say 
that, the last time I was in London, I saw a brass-plate, 
with "Doctor James Brown" upon it, on the door of a 
handsome house in a handsome square. And as I looked, I 
saw a brougham drive up to the door, and a lady get out, 
and go into that house, who was certainly the Margaret 
Frazer of old days — graver, more portly, more stern I had 
almost said. But, as I watched and thought, I saw her 
come to the dining-room window with a baby in her arms, 
and her whole face melted into a smile of infinite sweetness. 






THE 

MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 



MR. and Mrs. Openshaw came from Manchester to settle 
in London. He had been, what is called in Lancashire, 
a salesman for a large manufacturing firm, who were extend- 
ing their business, and opening a warehouse in the city, where 
Mr. Openshaw was now to superintend their affairs. He 
rather enjoyed the change ; having a kind of curiosity about 
London, which he had never yet been able to gratify in his 
brief visits to the metropolis. At the same time, he had an 
odd, shrewd contempt for the inhabitants ; whom he always 
pictured to himself as fine, lazy people ; caring nothing but 
for fashion and aristocracy, and lounging away their days 
in Bond Street, and such places ; ruining good English, and 
ready in their turn to despise him as a provincial. The hours 
that the men of business kept in the city scandalised him, 
too, accustomed as he was to the early dinners of Manchester 
folk and the consequently far longer evenings. Still, he was 
pleased to go to London ; though he would not for the world 
have confessed it, even to himself, and always spoke of the 
step to his friends as one demanded of him by the interests 
of his employers, and sweetened to him by a considerable 
increase of salary. This, indeed, was so liberal that he might 
have been justified in taking a much larger house than the 
one he did, had he not thought himself bound to set an 
example to Londoners of how httle a Manchester man of 
business cared for show. Inside, however, he furnished it 
with an unusual degree of comfort ; and, in the winter-time, 
he insisted on keeping up as large fires as the grates would 
allow, in every room where the temperature was in the least 
chilly. Moreover, his northern sense of hospitality was such, 
335 



33^ THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 

that, if he were at home, he could hardly suffer a visitor to 
leave the house without forcing meat and drink upon him. 
Every servant in the house was well warmed, well fed, and 
kindly treated ; for their master scorned all petty saving in 
aught that conduced to comfort ; while he amused himself by 
following out all his accustomed habits and individual ways, 
in defiance of what any of his new neighbours might think. 

His wife was a pretty, gentle woman, of suitable age and 
character. He was forty-two ; she thirty-five. He was loud 
and decided ; she soft and yielding. They had two children ; 
or, rather, I should say, she had two ; for the elder, a girl of 
eleven, was Mrs. Openshaw's child by Frank Wilson, her 
first husband. The younger was a little boy, Edwin, who 
could just prattle, and to whom his father dehghted to speak 
in the broadest and most unintelligible Lancashire dialect, 
in order to keep up what he called the true Saxon accent. 

Mrs. Openshaw's Christian name was Alice, and her first 
husband had been her own cousin. She was the orphan niece 
of a sea-captain in Liverpool ; a quiet, grave little creature, 
of great personal attraction when she was fifteen or sixteen, 
with regular features and a blooming complexion. But she 
was very shy, and believed herself to be very stupid and 
awkward ; and was frequently scolded by her aunt, her own 
uncle's second wife. So when her cousin, Frank Wilson, 
came home from a long absence at sea, and first was kind 
and protective to her ; secondly, attentive ; and thirdly, despe- 
rately in love with her, she hardly knew how to be grateful 
enough to him. It is true, she would have preferred his re- 
maining in the first or second stages of behaviour ; for his 
violent love puzzled and frightened her. Her uncle neither 
helped nor hindered the love-affair ; though it was going on 
under his own eyes. Frank's step-mother had such a variable 
temper, that there was no knowing whether what she liked 
one day she would like the next or not. At length she went 
to such extremes of crossness, that Alice was only too glad 
to shut her eyes and rush blindly at the chance of escape from 
domestic tyranny offered her by a marriage with her cousin ; 
and, liking him better than any one in the world, except 
her uncle (who was at this time at sea), she went off one 
morning and was married to him ; her only bridesmaid being 
the housemaid at her aunt's. The consequence was, that 



THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. -^yj 

Frank and his wife went into lodgings, and Mrs. Wilson 
refused to see them, and turned away Norah, the warm- 
hearted housemaid, whom they accordingly took into their 
service. When Captain Wilson returned from his voyage, 
he was very cordial with the young couple, and spent many 
an evening at their lodgings, smoking his pipe and sipping 
his grog ; but he told them that, for quietness' sake, he could 
not ask them to his own house ; for his wife was bitter against 
them. They were not, however, very unhappy about this. 

The seed of future unhappiness lay rather in Frank's vehe- 
ment, passionate disposition, which led him to resent his 
wife's shyness and want of demonstrativeness as failures in 
conjugal duty. He was already tormenting himself, and 
her too, in a slighter degree, by apprehensions and imagina- 
tions of what might befall her during his approaching absence 
at sea. At last, he went to his father and urged him to 
insist upon Alice's being once more received under his roof; 
the more especially as there was now a prospect of her confine- 
ment while her husband was away on his voyage. Captain 
Wilson was, as he himself expressed it, "breaking up," and 
unwilling to undergo the excitement of a scene ; yet he felt 
that what his son said was true. So he went to his wife. And 
before Frank set sail, he had the comfort of seeing his wife 
installed in her own little garret in his father's house. To 
have placed her in the one best spare room, was a step beyond 
Mrs. Wilson's powers of submission or generosity. The worst 
part about it, however, was that the faithful Norah had to be 
dismissed. Her place as housemaid had been filled up ; and, 
even if it had not, she had forfeited Mrs. Wilson's good 
opinion for ever. She comforted her young master and 
mistress by pleasant prophecies of the time when they would 
have a household of their own ; of which, whatever service 
she might be in meanwhile, she should be sure to form a part. 
Almost the last action Frank did, before setting sail, was going 
with Ahce to see Norah once more at her mother's house ; and 
then he went away. 

Alice's father-in-law grew more and more feeble as winter 
advanced. She was of great use to her step-mother in nursing 
and amusing him ; and although there was anxiety enough in 
the household, there was, perhaps, more of peace than there 
had been for years, for Mrs. Wilson had not a bad lieart, and 



338 THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 

was softened by the visible approach of death to one whom 
she loved, and touched by the lonely condition of the young 
creature, expecting her first confinement in her husband's 
absence. To this relenting mood Norah owed the permission 
to come and nurse Alice when her baby was born, and to 
remain and attend on Captain Wilson. 

Before one letter had been received from Frank (who had 
sailed for the East Indies and China), his father died. Ahce 
was always glad to remember that he had held her baby in his 
arms, and kissed and blessed it before his death. After that, 
and the consequent examination into the state of his affairs, it 
was found that he had left far less property than people had 
been led by his style of living to expect ; and what money there 
was, was all settled upon his wife, and at her disposal after her 
death. This did not signify much to Alice, as Frank was now 
first mate of his ship, and, in another voyage or two, would be 
captain. Meanwhile he had left her rather more than two 
hundred pounds (all his savings) in the bank. 

It became time for Alice to hear from her husband. One 
letter from the Cape she had already received. The next was 
to announce his arrival in India. As week after week passed 
over, and no intelligence of the ship having got there reached 
the office of the owners, and the captain s wife was in the same 
state of ignorant suspense as Ahce herself, her fears grew most 
oppressive. At length the day came when, in reply to her 
inquiry at the Shipping Office, they told her that the owners 
had given up hope of ever hearing more of the Betsy-Jaiie, 
and had sent in their claim upon the underwriters. Now that 
he was gone for ever, she first felt a yearning, longing love for 
the kind cousin, the dear friend, the sympathising protector, 
whom she should never see again— first felt a passionate desire 
to show him his child, whom she had hitherto rather craved to 
have all to herself— her own sole possession. Her grief was, 
however, noiseless and quiet — rather to the scandal of Mrs. 
Wilson ; who bewailed her step-son as if he and she had always 
lived together in perfect harmony, and who evidently thought it 
her duty to burst into fresh tears at every strange face she saw ; 
dwelling on his poor young widow's desolate state, and the 
helplessness of the fatherless child, with an unction, as if she 
hked the excitement of the sorrowful story. 

So passed away the first days of Alice's widowhood. By-and- 



THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 339 

by things subsided into their natural and tranquil course. But, 
as if the young creature was always to be in some heavy trouble, 
her ewe-lamb began to be ailing, pining, and sickly. The 
child's mysterious illness turned out to be some affection of the 
spine, likely to affect health, but not to shorten life — at least, so 
the doctors said. But the long, dreary suffering of one whom 
a mother loves as Alice loved her only child, is hard to look 
forward to. Only Norah guessed what Alice suffered ; no orxe 
but God knew. 

And so it fell out that, when Mrs. Wilson the elder came to 
her one day, in violent distress, occasioned by a very material 
diminution in the value of the property that her husband had 
left her — a diminution which made her income barely enough to 
support herself, much less Alice — the latter could hardly under- 
stand how anything which did not touch health or life could 
cause such grief ; and she received the intelligence with irritating 
composure. But when, that afternoon, the little sick child was 
brought in, and the grandmother — who after all loved it well — 
began a fresh moan over her losses to its unconscious ears — ■ 
saying how she had planned to consult this or that doctor, and 
to give it this or that comfort or luxury in after years, but that 
now all chance of this had passed away — Alice's heart was 
touched, and she drew near to Mrs. Wilson with unwonted 
caresses, and, in a spirit not unlike to that of Ruth, entreated 
that, come what would, they might remain together. After 
much discussion in succeedihg days, it was arranged that Mrs. 
Wilson should take a house in Manchester, furnishing it partly 
with what furniture she had, and providing the rest with Alice's 
remaining two hundred pounds. Mrs. Wilson was herself a 
Manchester woman, and naturally longed to return to her 
native town ; some connections of her own, too, at that time 
required lodgings, for which they were willing to pay pretty 
handsomely. Alice undertook the active superintendence and 
superior work of the household ; Norah, willing, faithful Norah, 
offered to cook, scour, do anything, in short, so that she might 
but remain with them. 

The plan succeeded. For some years their first lodgers 
remained with them, and all went smoothly — with the one sad 
exception of the httle girl's increasing deformity. How that 
mother loved that child, it is not for words to tell ! 

Then came a break of misfortune. Their lodgers left, and 



340 THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 

no one succeeded to them. After some months, it became 
necessary to remove to a smaller house ; and Alice's tender 
conscience was torn by the idea that she ought not to be a 
burden to her mother-in-law, but to go out and seek her own 
maintenance. And leave her child ! The thought came like 
the sweeping boom of a funeral bell over her heart. 

By-and-by, Mr. Openshaw came to lodge with them. He 
had started in life as the errand-boy and sweeper-out of a ware- 
house ; had struggled up through all the grades of employment 
in it, fighting his way through the hard striving Manchester life 
with strong, pushing energy of character. Every spare moment 
of time had been sternly given up to self-teaching. He was a 
•capital accountant, a good French and German scholar, a keen, 
far-seeing tradesman — understanding markets, and the bearing 
of events, both near and distant, on trade: and yet, with such 
Tivid attention to present details, that I do not think he ever 
saw a group of flowers in the fields without thinking whether 
their colours would, or would not, form harmonious contrasts 
in the coming spring muslins and prints. He went to debating 
societies, and threw himself with all his heart and soul into 
politics ; esteeming, it must be owned, every man a fool or a 
knave who differed from him, and overthrowing his opponents 
rather by the loud strength of his language than the calm 
strength of his logic. There was something of the Yankee in 
all this. Indeed, his theory ran parallel to the famous Yankee 
motto— " England flogs creation, and Manchester flogs Eng- 
land." Such a man, as may be fancied, had had no time for 
falling in love, or any such nonsense. At the age when most 
young men go through their courting and matrimony, he had 
not the means of keeping a wife, and was far too practical to 
think of having one. And now that he was in easy circum- 
stances, a rising man, he considered women almost as incum- 
brances to the world, v.ith whom a man had better have as little 
to do as possible. His first impression of Alice was indistinct, 
and he did not care enough about her to make it distinct. " A 
pretty, yea-nay kind of woman," would have been his descrip- 
tion of her, if he had been pushed into a corner. He was rather 
afraid, in the beginning, that her quiet ways arose from a list- 
lessness and laziness of character, which would have been 
exceedingly discordant to his active, energetic nature. But, 
'when he found out the punctuality with which his wishes were 



THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 34I 

attended to, and her work was done ; when he was called in the 
morning at the very stroke of the clock, his shaving-water scald- 
ing hot, his fire bright, his coffee made exactly as his peculiar 
fancy dictated (for he was a man who had his theory about 
everything based upon what he knew of science, and often 
perfectly original) — then he began to think : not that Ahce had 
any particular merit, but that he had got into remarkably good 
lodgings ; his restlessness wore away, and he began to consider 
himself as almost settled for life in them. 

Mr. Openshaw had been too busy, all his days, to be intro- 
spective. He did not know that he had any tenderness in his 
nature ; and if he had become conscious of its abstract existence 
he would have considered it as a manifestation of disease in 
some part of him. But he was decoyed into pity unawares ; 
and pity led on to tenderness. That little helpless child — 
always carried about by one of the three busy women of the 
house, or else patiently threading coloured beads in the chair 
from which, by no effort of its own, could it ever move — the 
great, grave blue eyes, full of serious, not uncheerful, expression, 
giving to the small delicate face a look beyond its years — the 
soft plaintive voice dropping out but few words, so unhke the 
continual prattle of a child — caught Mr. Openshaw's attention 
in spite of himself. One day — he half scorned himself for doing 
so — ^he cut short his dinner-hour to go in search of some toy 
which should take the place of those eternal beads. I forget 
what he bought ; but, when he gave the present (which he took 
care to do in a short, abrupt manner, and when no one was by 
to see him), he was almost thrilled by the flash of dehght that 
came over that child's face, and he could not help, all through 
that afternoon, going over and over again the picture left on his 
memory by the bright effect of unexpected joy on the little girl's 
face. When he returned home, he found his slippers placed by 
his sitting-room fire ; and even more careful attention paid to 
his fancies than was habitual in those model lodgings. When 
Alice had taken the last of his tea-things away — she had been 
silent as usual till then — she stood for an instant with the door 
in her hand. Mr. Openshaw looked as if he were deep in his 
book, though in fact he did not see a line ; but was heartily 
wishing the woman would go, and not make any palaver of. 
gratitude. But she only said — 

"I am very much obliged to you, sir. Thank you very 



342 THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 

much," and was gone, even before he could send her away with 
a " There, my good woman, that's enough ! " 

For some time longer he took no apparent notice of the child. 
He even hardened his heart into disregarding her sudden flush 
of colour and little timid smile of recognition when he saw her 
by chance. But, after all, this could not last for ever ; and, 
having a second time given way to tenderness, there was no 
relapse. The insidious enemy having thus entered his heart, in 
the guise of compassion to the child, soon assumed the more 
dangerous form of interest in the mother. He was aware of 
this change of feeling — despised himself for it — struggled with 
it ; nay, internally yielded to it and cherished it, long before he 
suffered the slightest expression of it, by word, action, or look 
to escape him. He watched Alice's docile, obedient ways to 
her step-mother ; the love which she had inspired in the rough 
Norah (roughened by the wear and tear of sorrow and years) ; 
but, above all, he saw the wild, deep, passionate affection exist- 
ing between her and her child. They spoke little to any one 
else, or when any one else was by ; but, when alone together, 
they talked, and murmured, and cooed, and chattered so con- 
tinually, that Mr. Openshaw first wondered what they could 
find to say to each other, and next became irritated because 
they were always so grave and silent with him. All this time 
he was perpetually devising small new pleasures for the child. 
His thoughts ran, in a pertinacious way, upon the desolate life 
before her ; and often he came back from his day's work loaded 
with the very thing Alice had been longing for, but had not 
been able to procure. One time it was a little chair for drawing 
the little sufferer along the streets ; and, many an evening that 
following summer, Mr. Openshaw drew her along himself, re- 
gardless of the remarks of his acquaintances. One day, in 
autumn, he put down his newspaper, as Alice came in with 
the breakfast, and said, in as indifferent a voice as he could 
assume — 

" Mrs. Frank, is there any reason why we two should not put 
up our horses together?" 

Alice stood still in perplexed wonder. What did he mean ? 
He had resumed the reading of his newspaper, as if he did 
not expect any answer ; so she found silence her safest course, 
and went on quietly arranging his breakfast, without another 
word passing between them. Just as he was leaving the 



THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 343 

house, to go to the warehouse as usual, he turned back and 
put his head into the bright, neat, tidy kitchen, where all the 
women breakfasted in the morning — 

"You'll think of what I said, Mrs. Frank" (this was her 
name with the lodgers), "and let me have your opinion upon 
it to-night." 

Alice was thankful that her mother and Norah were too busy 
talking together to attend much to this speech. She deter- 
mined not to think about it all through the day ; and, of 
course, the effort not to think made her think all the more. 
At night she sent up Norah with his tea. But Mr. Openshaw 
almost knocked Norah down, as she was going out at the 
door, by pushing past her and calling out, " Mrs. Frank !" in 
an impatient voice, at the top of the stairs. 

Alice went up, rather than seem to have affixed too much 
meaning to his words. 

"Well, Mrs. Frank," he said, "what answer? Don't make 
it too long ; for I have lots of office-work to get through to- 
night." 

" I hardly know what you meant, sir," said truthful 
Alice. 

' ' Well ! I should have thought you might have guessed. 
You're not new at this sort of work, and I am. However, 
I'll make it plain this time. Will you have me to be thy 
wedded husband, and serve me, and love me, and honour 
me, and all that sort of thing? Because, if you will, I will 
do as much by you, and be a father to your child— and that's 
more than is put in the Prayer-Book. Now, I'm a man of 
my word ; and what I say I feel ; and what I promise, I'll do. 
Now, for your answer ! " 

Alice was silent. He began to make the tea, as if her reply 
was a matter of perfect indifference to him ; but, as soon as 
that was done, he became impatient. 

"Well?" said he. 

" How long, sir, may I have to think over it?" 

"Three minutes!" (looking at his watch). "You've had 
two already — that makes five. Be a sensible woman, say 
*Yes,' and sit down to tea with me, and we'll talk it over 
together ; for, after tea, I shall be busy ; say ' No ' " (he 
hesitated a moment to try and keep his voice in the same 
tone), "and I shan't say another word about it, but pay up 



344 THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 

a year's rent for my rooms to-morrow, and be off. Time's up 1 
Yes or no?" 

*' If you please, sir — you have been so good to little Ailsie " 

"There, sit down comfortably by me on the sofa, and let us 
have our tea together. I am glad to find you are as good and • 
sensible as I took you for." 

And this was Alice Wilson's second wooing. 

Mr. Openshaw's will was too strong, and his circumstances 
too good, for him not to carry all before him. He settled 
Mrs. Wilson in a comfortable house of her own, and made 
her quite independent of lodgers. The little that Alice said 
with regard to future plans was in Norah's behalf. 

"No," said Mr. Openshaw. " Norah shall take care of 
the old lady as long as she lives ; and after that she shall 
either come and live with us, or, if she likes it better, she shall 
have a provision for life — for your sake, missus. No one 
who has been good to you or the child shall go unrewarded. 
But even the little one will be better for some fresh stuff 
about her. Get her a bright sensible girl as a nurse : one 
who won't go rubbing her with calf's-foot jelly, as Norah 
does — wasting good stuff outside that ought to go in — but 
will follow doctors' directions, which, as you must see pretty 
clearly by this time, Norah won't, because they give the poor 
little wench pain. Now, I'm not above being nesh for other 
folks myself. I can stand a good blow, and never change 
colour ; but, set me in the operating-room of the Infirmary, 
and I turn as sick as a girl. Yet, if need were, I would hold 
the little wench on my knees while she screeched with pain, 
if it were to do her poor back good. Nay, nay, wench ! 
keep your white looks for the time when it comes — I don't 
say it ever will. But this I know, Norah will spare the 
child and cheat the doctor, if she can. Now, I say, give 
the bairn a year or two's chance, and then, when the pack 
of doctors have done their best — and, maybe, the old lady 
has gone — we'll have Norah back or do better for her." 

The pack of doctors could do no good to little Ailsie. She 
was beyond their power. But her father (for so he insisted 
on being called, and also on Alice's no longer retaining the 
appellation of mamma, but becoming henceforward mother), 
by his healthy cheerfulness of manner, his clear decision of 
purpose, his odd turns and quirks of humour, added to his 



THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 345 

real strong love for the helpless little girl, infused a new 
element of brightness and confidence into her life ; and though 
her back remained the same, her general health was strength- 
ened, and Alice — never going beyond a smile herself — had the 
pleasure of seeing her child taught to laugh. 

As for Alice's own life, it was happier than it had ever been 
before. Mr. Openshaw required no demonstration, no ex- 
pressions of affection from her. Indeed, these would rather 
have disgusted him. Alice could love deeply, but could not 
talk about it. The perpetual requirement of loving words, 
looks, and caresses, and misconstruing their absence into 
absence of love, had been the great trial of her former 
married life. Now, all went on clear and straight under 
the guidance of her husband's strong sense, warm heart, and 
powerful will. Year by year their worldly prosperity increased. 
At Mrs. Wilson's death, Norah came back to them as nurse 
to the newly-born little Edwin, into which post she was not 
installed without a pretty strong oration on the part of the 
proud and happy father, who declared that if he found out 
that Norah ever tried to screen the boy by a falsehood, or 
to make him nesh either in body or mind, she should go 
that very day. Norah and Mr. Openshaw were not on the 
most thoroughly cordial terms, neither of them fully recognis- 
ing or appreciating the other's best qualities. 

This was the previous history of the Lancashire family, who 
had now removed to London. 

They had been there about a year, when Mr. Openshaw 
suddenly informed his wife that he had determined to heal long- 
standing feuds, and had asked his uncle and aunt Chadwick 
to come and pay them a visit and see London. Mrs. Openshaw 
had never seen this uncle and aunt of her husband's. Years 
before she had married him, there had been a quarrel. All she 
knew was, that Mr. Chadwick was a small manufacturer in a 
country town in South Lancashire. She was extremely pleased 
that the breach was to be healed, and began making preparations 
to render their visit pleasant. 

They arrived at last. Going to see London was such an 
event to them, that Mrs. Chadwick had made all new linen 
fresh for the occasion, from night-caps downwards ; and as 
for gowns, ribbons, and collars, she might have been going into 
the wilds of Canada where never a shop is, so large was her 



346 THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 

stock. A fortnight before the day of her departure for London, 
she had formally called to take leave of all her acquaintance, 
saying she should need every bit of the intermediate time for 
packing up. It was like a second wedding in her imagination ; 
and, to complete the resemblance which an entirely new ward- 
robe made between the two events, her husband brought her 
back from Manchester, on tlie last market-day before they set 
off, a gorgeous pearl and amethyst brooch, saying, " Lunnon 
should see that Lancashire folks knew a handsome thing when 
they saw it." 

For some time after Mr. and Mrs. Chadwick arrived at the 
Openshaws' there was no opportunity for wearing this brooch ; 
but at length they obtained an order to see Buckingham Palace, 
and the spirit of loyalty demanded that Mrs. Chadwick should 
wear her best clothes in visiting the abode of her sovereign. 
On her return, she hastily changed hev dress ; for Mr. Open- 
shaw had planned that they should go to Richmond, drink 
tea, and return by moonlight. Accordingly, about five o'clock, 
Mr. and Mrs. Openshaw and Mr. and Mrs. Chadwick set off. 

The housemaid and cook sat below, Norah hardly knew 
where. She was always engrossed in the nursery, in tending 
her two children, and in sitting by the restless, excitable 
Ailsie till she fell asleep. By-and-by the housemaid Bessy 
tapped gently at the door. Norah went to her, and they spoke 
in whispers. 

" Nurse ! there's some one downstairs wants you." 

' ' Wants me ! who is it ? " 

" A gentleman " 

"A gentleman ? Nonsense ! '* 

"Well, a man, then ; and he asks for you, and he rang at the 
front-door bell, and has walked into the dining-room." 

" You should never have let him," exclaimed Norah, " master 
and missus out " 

"I did not want him to come in; but, when he heard you 
lived here, he walked past me, and sat down on the first chair, 
and said, ' Tell her to come and speak to me.' There is no 
gas lighted in the room, and supper is all set out." 

"He'll be off with the spoons!" exclaimed Norah, putting 
the housemaid's fear into words, and preparing to leave the 
room ; first, however, giving a look to Ailsie, sleeping soundly 
and calmly. 



THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 347 

Downstairs she went, uneasy fears stirring in her bosom. 
Before she entered the dining-room she provided herself with 
a candle, and, with it in her hand, she went in, looking around 
her in the darkness for her visitor. 

He was standing up, holding by the table. Norah and he 
looked at each other ; gradual recognition coming into their 
eyes. 

" Norah?" at length he asked. 

"Who are you?" asked Norah, with the sharp tones of 
alarm and incredulity. "I don't know you : " trying by futile 
words of disbeUef to do away with the terrible fact before 
her. 

"Am I so changed?" he said pathetically. "I dare say I 
am. But, Norah, tell me!" he breathed hard, "where is my 
wife ? Is she— is she alive ? " 

He came nearer to Norah, and would have taken her hand ; 
but she backed away from him ; looking at him all the time 
with staring eyes, as if he were some horrible object. Yet 
he was a handsome, bronzed, good-looking fellow, with beard 
and moustache, giving him a foreign-looking aspect ; but his 
eyes ! there was no mistaking those eager, beautiful eyes — the 
very same that Norah had watched not half-an-hour ago, till 
sleep stole softly over them. 

"Tell me, Norah — I can bear it — I have feared it so often. 
Is she dead?" Norah still kept silence. " She is dead ! " He 
hung on Norah's words and looks, as if for confirmation or 
contradiction. 

" What shall I do?" groaned Norah. " O sir ! why did you 
come? how did you find me out? where have you been? We 
thought you dead, we did indeed ! " She poured out words and 
questions to gain time, as if time would help her. 

"Norah ! answer me this question straight, by 'yes' or *no' 
— Is my wife dead?" 

" No, she is not ! " said Norah slowly and heavily. 

"Oh, what a relief! Did she receive my letters? But per- 
haps you don't know. Why did you leave her? Where is she?' 
O Norah, tell me all quickly ! " 

"Mr. Frank!" said Norah at last, almost driven to bay 
by her terror lest her mistress should return at any moment, 
and find him there— unable to consider what was best to be- 
done or said — rushing at something decisive, because she could 



348 THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 

not endure her present state: "Mr. Frank! we never heard 
a line from you, and the shipowners said you had gone down, 
you and every one else. We thought you were dead, if ever 
man was, and poor Miss Ahce and her httle sick, helpless 
child ! O sir, you must guess it," cried the poor creature 
at last, bursting out into a passionate fit of crying, "for indeed 
I cannot tell it. But it was no one's fault. God help us all 
this night ! " 

Norah had sat down. She trembled too much to stand. 
He took her hands in his. He squeezed them hard, as if, 
by physical pressure, the truth could be wrung out. 

"Norah!" This time his tone was calm, stagnant as 
despair. " She has married again ! " 

Norah shook her head sadly. The grasp slowly relaxed. 
The man had fainted. 

There was brandy in the room. Norah forced some drops 
into Mr. Frank's mouth, chafed his hands, and — when mere 
animal life returned, before the mind poured in its flood of 
memories and thoughts — she lifted him up, and rested his 
head against her knees. Then she put a few crumbs of 
bread taken from the supper-table, soaked in brandy, into 
his mouth. Suddenly he sprang to his feet. 

"Where is she? Tell me this instant." He looked so 
wild, so mad, so desperate, that Norah felt herself to be in 
bodily danger ; but her time of dread had gone by ; she 
had been afraid to tell him the truth, and then she had been 
a coward. Now, her wits were sharpened by the sense of 
Iiis desperate state. He must leave the house. She would 
pity him afterwards ; but now she must rather command 
and upbraid ; for he must leave the house before her mistress 
came home. That one necessity stood clear before her. 

"She is not here — that is enough for you to know. Nor 
can I say exactly where she is " (which was true to the letter 
if not to the spirit). "Go away, and tell me where to find 
you to-morrow, and I will tell you all. My master and mis- 
tress may come back at any minute, and then what would 
become of me, with a strange man in the house ?" 

Such an argument was too petty to touch his excited mind. 

" I don't care for your master and mistress. If your master 
is a man he must feel for me — poor shipwrecked sailor that 
I am — kept for years a prisoner amongst savages, always, 



THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 349 

always, always thinking of my wife and my home — dreaming 
of her by night, talking to her, though she could not hear, 
by day. I loved her more than all heaven and earth put 
together. Tell me where she is, this instant, you wretched 
woman, who salved over her wickedness to her, as you do 
to me ! " 

The clock struck ten. Desperate positions require desperate 
measures. 

"If you will leave the house now, I will come to you to- 
morrow and tell you all. What is more, you shall see your 
child now. She lies sleeping upstairs. O sir, you have a 
child, you do not know that as yet — a little weakly girl — 
with just a heart and soul beyond her years. We have 
reared her up with such care ! We watched her, for we 
thought for many a year she might die any day, and we 
tended her, and no hard thing has come near her, and no 
rough word has ever been said to her. And now you come 
and will take her life into your hand, and will crush it. 
Strangers to her have been kind to her ; but her own father 
— Mr. Frank, I am her nurse, and I love her, and I tend 
her, and I would do anything for her that I could. Her 
mother's heart beats as her's beats ; and if she suffers a 
pain, her mother trembles all over. If she is happy, it is her 
mother that smiles and is glad. If she is growing stronger, 
her mother is healthy — if she dwindles, her mother lan- 
guishes. If she dies — well, I don't know : it is not every 
one can lie down and die when they wish it. Come up- 
stairs, Mr. Frank, and see your child. Seeing her will do 
good to your poor heart. Then go away in God's name, 
just this one night ; to-morrow, if need be, you can do any- 
thing — kill us all if you will, or show yourself a great, grand 
man, whom God will bless for ever and ever. Come, Mr. 
Frank, the look of a sleeping child is sure to give peace." 

She led him upstairs ; at first almost helping his steps, 
till they came near the nursery door. She had well-nigh 
forgotten the existence of little Edwin. It struck upon her 
with affright as the shaded light fell over the other cot ; but 
she skilfully threw that corner of the room into darkness, 
and let the light fall on the sleeping Ailsie. The child had 
thrown down the coverings, and her deformity, as she lay 
with her back to them, was plainly visible through her slight 



350 THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 

night-gown. Her little face, deprived of the lustre of her 
eyes, looked wan and pinched, and had a pathetic expres- 
sion in it, even as she slept. The poor father looked and 
looked with hungry, wistful eyes, into which the big tears 
came swelling up slowly and dropped heavily down, as he 
stood trembling and shaking all over. Norah was angry 
with herself for growing impatient of the length of time that 
long, lingering gaze lasted. She thought that she waited 
for full half-an-hour before Frank stirred. And then — in- 
stead of going away — he sank down on his knees by the 
bedside, and buried his face in the clothes. Little Ailsie 
stirred uneasily. Norah pulled him up in terror. She could 
afford no more time, even for prayer, in her extremity of 
fear ; for surely the next moment would bring her mistress 
home. She took him forcibly by the arm, but, as he was 
going, his eye lighted on the other bed. He stopped. In- 
telligence came back into his face. His hands clenched. 

" His child?" he asked. 

" Her child," replied Norah. " God watches over him," said 
she instinctively ; for Frank's looks excited her fears, and she 
needed to remind herself of the Protector of the helpless. 

" God has not watched over me," he said in despair ; his 
thoughts apparently recoiling on his own desolate, deserted 
state. But Norah had no time for pity. To-morrow she 
would be as compassionate as her heart prompted. At 
length she guided him downstairs, and shut the outer door, 
and bolted it — as if by bolts to keep out facts. 

Then she went back into the dining-room, and effaced all 
traces of his presence, as far as she could. She went up- 
stairs to the nursery and sat there, her head on her hand, 
thinking what was to come of all this misery. It seemed to 
her very long before her master and mistress returned ; yet 
it was hardly eleven o'clock. She heard the loud, hearty 
Lancashire voices on the stairs ; and, for the first time, she 
understood the contrast of the desolation of the poor man 
who had so lately gone forth in lonely despair. 

It almost put her out of patience to see Mrs. Openshaw come 
in, calmly smiling, handsomely dressed, happy, easy, to inquire 
after her children. 

"Did Ailsie go to sleep comfortably?" she whispered to 
Norah. 



THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 35 I 

"Yes." 

Her mother bent over her, looking at her slumbers with 
the soft eyes of love. How little she dreamed who had looked 
on her last ! Then she went to Edwin, with perhaps less wist- 
ful anxiety in her countenance, but more of pride. She took 
off her things to go down to supper. Norah saw her no more 
that night. 

Besides having a door into the passage, the sleeping-nursery 
opened out of Mr. and Mrs. Openshaw's room, in order that 
they might have the children more immediately under their 
own eyes. Early the next summer morning, Mrs. Openshaw 
was awakened by Ailsie's startled call of "Mother! mother!" 
She sprang up, put on her dressing-gown, and went to her 
child. Ailsie was only half-awake, and in a not unusual state 
of terror. 

"Who was he, mother? Tell me ! " 

"Who, my darling? No one is here. You have been 
dreaming, love. Walcen up quite. See, it is broad daylight." 

"Yes," said Ailsie, looking round her; then chnging to her 
mother, "but a man was here in the night, mother." 

" Nonsense, Uttle goose. No man has ever come near 
you." 

"Yes, he did. He stood there. Just by Norah. A man 
with hair and a beard. And he knelt down and said his 
prayers. Norah knows he was here, mother" (half angrily, as 
Mrs. Openshaw shook her head in smiling incredulity). 

"Well! we will ask Norah when she comes," said Mrs. 
Openshaw soothingly. " But we won't talk any more about 
him now. It is not five o'clock ; it is too early for you to get 
up. Shall I fetch you a book and read to you? " 

"Don't leave me, mother," said the child, clinging to her. 
So Mrs. Openshaw sat on the bedside talking to Ailsie, and 
telhng her of what they had done at Richmond the evening 
before, ' until the little girl's eyes slowly closed and she once 
more fell asleep. 

"What was the matter?" asked Mr. OpenshaV, as his wife 
returned to bed. 

"Ailsie wakened up in a fright, with some story of a man 
having been in the room to say his prayers — a dream, I 
suppose." And no more was said at the time. 

Mrs. Openshaw had almost forgotten the whole affair when 



352 THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 

she got up about seven o'clock. But by-and-by, she heard a 
sharp altercation going on in the nursery — Norah speaking 
angrily to Ailsie, a most unusual thing. Both Mr. and Mrs. 
Openshaw listened in astonishment. 

" Hold your tongue, Ailsie ! let me hear none of your dreams ; 
never let me hear you tell that story again ! " 

Ailsie began to cry. 

Mr. Openshaw opened the door of communication before his 
wife could say a word. 

" Norah, come here ! " 

The nurse stood at the door, defiant. She perceived she had 
been heard, but she was desperate. 

" Don't let me hear you speak in that manner to Ailsie 
again," he said sternly, and shut the door. 

Norah was infinitely relieved, for she had dreaded some 
questioning ; and a little blame for sharp speaking was what 
she could well bear, if cross-examination was let alone. 

Downstairs they went, Mr. Openshaw carrying Ailsie ; the 
sturdy Edwin coming step by step, right foot foremost, always 
holding his mother's hand. Each child was placed in a chair 
by the breakfast-table, and then Mr, and Mrs. Openshaw stood 
together at the window, awaiting their visitors' appearance, and 
making plans for the day. There was a pause. Suddenly Mr. 
Openshaw turned to Ailsie, and said — 

" What a little goosey somebody is with her dreams, waken- 
ing up poor, tired mother in the middle of the night, with a 
story of a man being in the room." 

"Father, I'm sure I saw him," said Ailsie, half-crying. "I 
don't want to make Norah angry ; but I was not asleep, for all 
she says I was. I had been asleep, and I wakened up quite 
wide awake, though I was so frightened. I kept my eyes 
nearly shut, and I saw the man quite plain. A great brown 
man with a beard. He said his prayers. And then looked 
at Edwin. And then Norah took him by the arm and led 
him away, after they had whispered a bit together." 

"Now, my little woman must be reasonable," said Mr. 
Openshaw, who was always patient with Ailsie. "There was 
no man in the house last night at all. No man comes into the 
house, as you know, if you think ; much less goes up into the 
nursery. But sometimes we dream something has happened, 
and the dream is so like reality, that you are not the first 



THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 353 

person, little woman, who has stood out that the thing has 
really happened." 

"But, indeed, it was not a dream!" said Ailsie, beginning 
to cry. 

Just then Mr. and Mrs. Chadwick came down, looking 
grave and discomposed. All during breakfast - time they 
were silent and uncomfortable. As soon as the breakfast 
things were taken away, and the children had been carried 
upstairs, Mr. Chadwick began, in an evidently preconcerted 
manner, to inquire if his nephew was certain that all his 
servants, were honest ; for that Mrs. Chadwick had that 
morning missed a very valuable brooch, which she had 
worn the day before. She remembered taking it off when 
she came home from Biickingham Palace. Mr. Openshaw's 
face contracted into hard lines ; grew like what it was before 
he had known his wife and her child. He rang the bell, 
even before his uncle had done speaking. It was answered 
by the housemaid. 

"Mary, was any one here last night, while we were 
away?" 

"A man, sir, came to speak to Norah." 

"To speak to Norah! Who was he? How long did he 
stay?" 

"I'm sure I can't tell, sir. He came — perhaps about nine. 
I went up to tell Norah in the nursery, and she came down to 
speak to him. She let him out, sir. She will know who he 
was and how long he stayed." 

She waited a moment to be asked any more questions, but 
she was not, so she went away. 

A minute afterwards, Mr. Openshaw made as though he 
were going out of the room ; but his wife laid her hand on 
his arm — 

"Do not speak to her before the children," she said in her 
low, quiet voice. " I will go up and question her." 

"No; I must speak to her. You must know," said he, 
turning to his uncle and aunt, " my missus has an old servant, 
as faithful as ever woman was, I do believe, as far as love goes, 
but at the same time, who does not speak truth, as even the 
missus must allow. Now, my notion is, that this Norah of 
ours has been come over by some good-for-nothing chap (for 
she's at the time o' Hfe when they say women pray for hus- 

M 



354 THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 

bands — ' anv, good Lord, any'), and has let him into our 
house, and the chap has made off with your brooch, and 
m'appen many another thing beside. It's only saying that 
Norah is soft-hearted, and doesn't stick at a white lie — that's 
all, missus." 

It was curious to notice how his tone, his eyes, his whole 
face was changed, as he spoke to his wife ; but he was the 
resolute man through all. She knew better than to oppose 
him ; so she went upstairs, and told Norah her master wanted 
to speak to her, and that she would take care of the children 
in the meanwhile. 

Norah rose to go, without a word. Her thoughts were 
these— 

" If they tear me to pieces, they sTiall never know through 
me. He may come — and then, just Lord, have mercy upon 
us all ! for some of us are dead folk to a certainty. But he 
shall do it ; not me." 

You may fancy now her look of determination, as she faced 
her master alone in the dining-room ; Mr. and Mrs. Chadwick 
having left the affair in their nephew's hands, seeing that he 
took it up with such vehemence. 

" Norah ! Who was that man that came to my house last 
night ? " 

" Man, sir !" As if infinitely surprised ; but it was only to 
gain time. 

' ' Yes ; the man that Mary let in ; that she went upstairs to 
the nursery to tell you about ; that you came down to speak 
to ; the same chap, I make no doubt, that you took into the 
nursery to have your talk out with ; the one Ailsie saw, and 
afterwards dreamed about ; thinking, poor wench ! she saw 
him say his prayers, when nothing, I'll be bound, was further 
from his thoughts ; the one that took Mrs. Chadwick's brooch, 
value ten pounds. Now% Norah ! don t go off. I'm sure as 
my name's Thomas Openshaw, that you knew nothing of this 
robbery. But I do think you've been imposed on, and that's 
the truth. Some good-for-nothing chap has been making up 
to you, and you have been just like all other women, and 
have turned a soft place in your heart to him ; and he came 
last night a-lovyering, and you had him up in the nursery, and 
he made use of his opportunities, and made off with a few 
things on his way down ! Come, now, Norah ; it's no blame 



THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 355 

to you, only you must not be such a fool again ! Tell us," 
he continued, "what name he gave you, Norah. I'll be 
bound, it was not the right one ; but it will be a clue for the 
police." 

Norah drew herself up. "You may ask that question, and 
taunt me with my being single, and with my credulity, as you 
will. Master Openshaw. You'll get no answer from me. As 
for the brooch, and the story of theft and burglary ; if any 
friend ever came to see me (which I defy you to prove, and 
deny), he'd be just as much above doing such a thing as you 
yourself, Mr. Openshaw— and more so, too ; for I'm not at all 
sure as everything you have is rightly come by, or would be 
yours long, if every man had his own." She meant, of course, 
his wife ; but he understood her to refer to his property in 
o^oods and chattels. 

"Now, my good woman," said he, "I'll just tell j^ou truly, 
I never trusted you out and out ; but my wife liked you, and 
I thought you had many a good point about you. If you once 
begin to sauce me. Til have the police to you, and get out the 
truth in a court of justice, if you'll not tell it me quietly and 
civilly here. Now, the best thing you can do, is quietly to tell 
me who the fellow is. Look here ! a man comes to my house ; 
asks for you ; you take him upstairs ; a valuable brooch is 
missing next day ; we know that you, and Mary, and cook, are 
honest ; but you refuse to tell us who the man is. Indeed, 
you've told one lie already about him, saying no one was, 
here last night. Now, I just put it to you, what do you 
think a policeman would say to this, or a magistrate? 
A magistrate would soon make you tell the truth, my good 
woman." 

"There's never the creature born that should get it out of 
me," said Norah. " Not unless I choose to tell." 

"I've a great mind to see," said Mr. Openshaw, growing 
angry at the defiance. Then, checking himself, he thought 
before he spoke again — 

"Norah, for your missus' sake I don't v/ant to go to ex- 
tremities. Be a sensible woman, if you can. It's no great 
disgrace, after all, to have been taken in. I ask you once 
more— as a friend — who was this man that you let into my 
house last night?" 

No answer. He repeated the question in an impatient tone. 



356 THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 

Still no answer. Norah's lips were set in determination not 
to speak. 

"Then there is but one thing to be done. I shall send for 
a p>oliceman." 

"You will not," said Norah, starting forward. "You shall 
not, sir ! No policeman shall touch me. I know nothing of 
the brooch, but I know this : ever since I was four-and-twenty, 
I have thought more of your wife than of myself : ever since I 
saw her, a poor motherless girl, put upon in her uncle's house, 
I have thought more of serving her than of serving myself ' I 
have cared for her and her child, as nobody ever cared for me. 
I don't cast blame on you, sir, but I say it's ill giving up one's 
life to any one ; for, at the end, they will turn round upon you, 
and forsake you, 

"Why does not my missus come herself to suspect me? 
Maybe, she is gone for the police? But I don't stay here, 
either for police, or magistrate, or master. You're an unlucky 
lot. I believe there's a curse on you. I'll leave you this very 
day. Yes, TU leave that poor Ailsie, too. I will. No good 
will ever come to you ! " 

Mr. Openshaw was utterly astonished at this speech ; most of 
which was completely unintelligible to him, as may easily be 
supposed. Before he could make up his mind what to say, or 
what to do, Norah had left the room. 1 do not think he had 
ever really intended to send for the police to this old servant of 
his wife s ; for he had never for a moment doubted her perfect 
honesty. But he had intended to compel her to tell him who 
the man was, and in this he was baffled. He was, consequently, 
much irritated. He returned to his uncle and aunt in a state of 
great annoyance and perplexity, and told -them he could get 
nothing out of the woman ; that some man had been in the 
house the night before ; but that she refused to tell who he was. 
At this moment his wife came in, greatly agitated, and asked 
what had happened to Norah ; for that she had put on her 
things in passionate haste, and left the house. 

" This looks suspicious," said Mr. Chad wick. "It is not the 
way in which an honest person would have acted." 

Mr. Openshaw kept silence. He was sorely perplexed. But 
Mrs. Openshaw turned round on Mr. Chadwick, with a sudden 
fierceness no one ever saw in her before. 

"You don't know Norah, uncle ! She is gone because she is 



THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 357 

deeply hurt at being suspected. Oh, I wish I had seen her — 
that I had spoken to her myself. She would have told me any- 
thing." Ahce wrung her hands. 

" I must confess," continued Mr. Chadwick to his nephew, in 
a lower voice, " I can't make you out. You used to be a word 
and a blow, and oftenest the blow first ; and now, when there 
is every cause for suspicion, you just do nought. Your missus 
is a very good woman, I grant; but she may have been put 
upon as well as other folk, I suppose. If you don't send for 
the police, I shall." 

"Very well," replied Mr. Openshaw surhly. "I can't clear 
Norah. She won't clear herself, as I believe she might if she 
would. Only I wash my hands of it ; for I am sure the woman 
herself is honest, and she's lived a long time with my wife, and 
I don't like her to come to shame." 

" But she will then be forced to clear herself. That, at any 
rate, will be a good thing." 

' ' Very well, very well ! I am heart-sick of the whole business. 
Come, Alice, come up to the babies ; they'll be in a sore way. 
I tell you, uncle," he said, turning round once more to Mr. 
Chadwick, suddenly and sharply, after his eye had fallen on 
Alice's wan, tearful, anxious face ; " I'll have no sending for the 
police after all. I'll buy my aunt twice as handsome a brooch 
this very day ; but I'll not have Norah suspected, and my missus 
plagued. There's for you." 

He and his wife left the room. Mr. Chadwick quietly waited 
till he was out of hearing, and then said to his wife : " For all 
Tom's heroics, I'm just quietly going for a detective, wench. 
Thou need'st know nought about it." 

He went to the police-station, and made a statement of the 
case. He was gratified by the impression which the evidence 
against Norah seemed to make. The men all agreed in his 
opinion, and steps were to be immediately taken to find out 
where she was. Most probably, as they suggested, she had 
gone at once to the man, who, to all appearance, was her lover. 
When Mr. Chadwick asked how they would find her out, they 
smiled, shook their heads, and spoke of mysterious but infallible 
ways and means. He returned to his nephew's house with a 
very comfortable opinion of his own sagacity. He was met 
by his wife with a penitent face — 

"O master, I've found my brooch ! It was just sticking by 



358 THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE, 

its pin in the flounce of my brown silk, that I wore yesterday, 
I took it off in a hurry, and it must have caught in it ; and I 
hung up my gown in the closet. Just now, when I was going 
to fold it up, there was the brooch ! I'm very vexed, but I 
never dreamt but what it was lost ! " 

Her husband, muttering something very like " Confound thee 
and thy brooch, too ! I wish I'd never given it thee,'' snatched 
up his hat, and rushed back to the station, hoping to be in 
time to stop the police from searching for Norah. But a detec- 
tive was already gone off on the errand. 

Where was Norah ? Half mad with the strain of the fearful 
secret, she had hardly slept through the night for thinking what 
must be done. Upon this terrible state of mind had come 
Ailsie's questions, showing that she had seen the Man, as the 
unconscious child called her father. Lastly came the suspicion 
of her honesty. She was little less than crazy as she ran up- 
stairs and dashed on her bonnet and shawl ; leaving all else, 
even her purse, behind her. In that house she would not stay. 
That was all she knew or was clear about. She would not 
even see the children again, for fear it should weaken her. She 
dreaded above everything Mr. Frank's return to claim his 
wife. She could not tell what remedy there was for a sorrow 
so tremendous, for her to stay to witness. The desire of escap- 
ing from the coming event was a stronger motive for her de- 
parture than her soreness about the suspicions directed against 
her ; although this last had been the final goad to the course 
she took. She walked away almost at headlong speed ; sob- 
bing as she went, as she had not dared to do during the past 
night for fear of exciting wonder in those who might hear her. 
Then she stopped. An idea came into her mind that she would 
leave London altogether, and betake herself to her native town 
of Liverpool. She felt in her pocket for her purse, as she drew 
near the Euston Square station with this intention. She had 
left it at home. Her poor head aching, her eyes swollen with 
crying, she had to stand still, and think, as well as she could, 
where next she should bend her steps. Suddenly the thought 
flashed into her mind that she would go and find out poor Mr. 
Frank. She had been hardly kind to him the night before, 
though her heart had bled for him ever since. She remembered 
his telling her, when she inquired for his address, almost as she 
had pushed him out of the door, of some hotel in a street not 



THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGEo 359 

far distant from Euston Square. Thither she went : with what 
intention she scarcely knew, but to assuage her conscience by 
teUing him how much she pitied him. In her present state she 
felt herself unfit to counsel, or restrain, or assist, or do aught 
else but sympathise and weep. The people of the inn said 
such a person had been there ; had arrived only the day before ; 
had gone out soon after his arrival, leaving his luggage in their 
care ; but had never come back. Norah asked for leave to sit 
down, and await the gentleman's return. The landlady — pretty 
secure in the deposit of luggage against any probable injury — 
showed her into a room, and quietly locked the door on the 
outside. Norah was utterly worn out, and fell asleep — a shiver- 
ing, starting, uneasy slumber, which lasted for hours. 

The detective, meanwhile, had come up with her some time 
before she entered the hotel, into which he followed her. Ask- 
ing the landlady to detain her for an hour or so, without giving 
any reason beyond showing his authority (which made the land- 
lady applaud herself a good deal for having locked her in), he 
went back to the police-station to report his proceedings. He 
could have taken her directly ; but his object was, if possible, 
to trace out the man who was supposed to have committed the 
robbery. Then he heard of the discovery of the brooch ; and 
consequently did not care to return. 

Norah slept till even the summer evening began to close in^ 
Then started up. Some one was at the door. It would be 
Mr. Frank ; and she dizzily pushed back her ruffled grey hair, 
which had fallen over her eyes, and stood looking to see him. 
Instead, there came in Mr, Openshaw and a policeman, 

"This is Norah Kennedy," said Mr. Openshaw. 

"O sir," said Norah, '^^ I did not touch the brooch ; indeed 
i did not. O sir, I cannot live to be thought so badly of;" 
and very sick and faint, she suddenly sank down on the ground. 
To her surprise, Mr, Openshaw raised her up very tenderly. 
Even the policeman helped to lay her on the sofa ; and, at 
Mr. Openshaw's desire, he went for some wine and sandwiches ; 
for the poor gaunt woman lay there almost as if dead with 
wearmess and exhaustion, 

"Norah," said Mn Openshaw, in his kindest voice, "the 
brooch is found. It was hanging to Mrs, Chadwick's gown. 
I beg your pardon. Most truly I beg your pardon, for having 
troubled you about it= IMy wife is almost brokenrhearted. 



3CO THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 

Eat, Norah — or, stay, first drink this glass of wine," said he, 
lifting her head, and pouring a httle down her throat. 

As she drank, she remembered where she was, and who she 
was waiting for. She suddenly pushed Mr. Openshaw away, 
saying, "O sir, you must go. You must not stop a minute. 
If he comes back he will kill you." 

"Alas, Norah ! I do not know who 'he' is. But some one 
fs gone away who will never come back : some one who knew 
you, and whom I am afraid you cared for." 

" I don't understand you, sir," said Norah, her master's kind 
and sorrowful manner bewildering her yet more than his words. 
The policeman had left the room at Mr. Openshaw's desire, 
and they two were alone. 

" You know what I mean, when I say some one is gone who 
will never come back. I mean that he is dead ! " 

" Who? " said Norah, trembling all over. 

"A poor man has been found in the Thames this morning- 
drowned." 

" Did he drown himself?" asked Norah solemnly. 

" God only knows," replied Mr. Openshaw, in the same tone. 
"Your name and address at our house were found in his 
pocket : that, and his purse, were the only things that were 
found upon him. I am sorry to say it, my poor Norah ; buf 
you are required to go and identify him," 

" To what?" asked Norah. 

"To say who it is. It is always done, in order that some 
reason may be discovered for the suicide — if suicide it was. I 
make no doubt, he was the man who came to see you at our 
house last night. It is very sad, I know." He made pauses 
between each little clause, in order to try and bring back her 
senses, which he feared were wandering — so wild and sad was 
her look. 

"Master Openshaw," said she at last, "I've a dreadful 
secret to tell you — only you must never breathe it to any one, 
and you and I must hide it away for ever. I thought to have 
done it all by myself, but I see I cannot. Yon poor man — yes ! 
the dead, drowned creature is, I fear, Mr. Frank, my mistress's 
lirst husband ! " 

Mr. Openshaw sat down, as if shot. He did not speak ; but 
after a while he signed to Norah to go on. 

"He came to me the other night, when, God be thanked, 



THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGE. 36 1 

you were all away at Richmond. He asked me if his wife was 
dead or alive. I was a brute, and thought more of your all 
coming home than of his sore trial ; I spoke out sharp, and 
said she was married again, and very content and happy ; I all 
but turned him away ; and now he lies dead and cold." 

" God forgive me ! " said Mr. Openshaw. 

" God forgive us all ! " said Norah. "Yon poor man needs 
forgiveness, perhaps, less than any one among us. He had 
been among the savages — shipwrecked — I know not what — • 
and he had written letters which had never reached my poor 
missus." 

" He saw his child ! " 
- "He saw her— yes ! I took him up, to give his thoughts 
another start ; for I believed he was going mad on my hands. 
I came to seek him here, as I more than half promised. My 
mind misgave me when I heard he never came in. O sir ! it 
must be him !" 

Mr. Openshaw rang the bell. Norah Vas almost too much 
stunned to wonder at what he did. He asked for writing 
materials, wrote a letter, and then said to Norah — 

* ' I am writing to Alice to say I shall be unavoidably absent 
for a few days ; that I have found you ; that you are well, 
and send her your love, and will come home to-morrow. You 
must go with me to the police court ; you must identify the 
body ; I will pay high to keep names and details out of the 
papers." 

' ' But where are you going, sir ? " 

He did not answer her directly. Then he said — 

"Norah, I must go with you, and look on the face of the 
man whom I have so injured, — unwittingly, it is true ; but it 
seems to me as if I had killed him. I will lay his head in the 
grave as if he were my only brother ; and how he must have 
hated me ! I cannot go home to my wife till all that I can do 
for him is done. Then I go with a dreadful secret on my 
mind. I shall never speak of it again, after these days are 
over. I know you will not, either." He shook hands with 
her ; and they never named the subject again, the one to the 
other. 

Norah went home to Alice the next day. Not a word was 
said on the cause of her abrupt departure a day or two before. 
Alice had been charged by her husband, in his letter, not to 

M2 



362 THE MANCHESTER MARRIAGK 

allude to the supposed theft of the brooch ; so she, implicitly 
obedient to those whom she loved both by nature and habit, 
was entirely silent on the subject, only treated Norah with the 
most tender respect, as if to make up for unjust suspicion. 

Nor did Alice inquire into the reason why Mr, Openshaw had 
been absent during his uncle and aunt's visit, after he had once 
said that it was unavoidable. He came back grave and quiet ; 
and from that time forth was curiously changed. More 
thoughtful, and perhaps less active ; quite as decided in con- 
duct, but with new and different rules for the guidance of that 
conduct. Towards Alice he could hardly be more kind than he 
had always been ; but he now seemed to look upon her as some 
one sacred, and to be treated with reverence as well as tender- 
ness. He throve in business, and made a large fortune, one 
half of which was settled upon her. 

Long years after these events, a few months after her mother 
died, Ailsie and her "father" (as she always called Mr» Open- 
shaw) drove to a cemetery a little way out of town, and she was 
carried to a certain mound by her maid, who was then sent 
back to the carriage. There was a headstone with *'F, W. " 
and a date upon it. That was all Sitting by the grave, 
Mr. Openshaw told her the story ; and for the sad fate of 
that poor father whom she had never ceen, hs shed Che only 
tears she ever saw fall from his eJes<^ 



LOIS THE WITCH. 



LOIS THE WITCH. 



CHAPTER I. 

IN the year 169 1, Lois Barclay stood on a little wooden pier, 
steadying herself on the stable land, in much the same 
manner as, eight or nine weeks ago, she had tried to steady 
herself on the deck of the rocking ship which had carried her 
across from Old to New England. It seemed as strange now 
to be on solid earth as it had been, not long ago, to be rocked 
by the sea both by day and by night ; and the aspect of the 
land was equally strange. The forests which showed in the 
distance all around, and which, in truth, were not very far 
from the wooden houses forming the town of Boston, were of 
different shades of green, and different, too, in shape of outline 
to those which Lois Barclay knew well in her old home in 
Warwickshire. Her heart sank a little as she stood alone, 
waiting for the captain of the good ship Redemption^ the 
kind, rough old sailor, who was her only known friend in this 
unknown continent. Captain Holdernesse was busy, however., 
as she saw, and it would probably be some time before he 
would be ready to attend to her ; so Lois sat down on one 
of the casks that lay about, and wrapped her grey duffel cloak 
tight around her, and sheltered herself under her hood, as well 
as might be, from the piercing wind, which seemed to follow 
those whom it had tyrannised over at sea with a dogged wish 
of still tormenting them on land. Very patiently did Lois 
sit there, although she was weary, and shivering with cold ; 
for the day was severe for May, and the Redemption, with 
store of necessaries and comforts for the Puritan colonists of 
New England, was the earliest ship that had ventured across 
the seas. 

How could Lois help thinking of the past, and speculating 
365 



366 LOIS THE WITCH. 

on the future, as she sat on Boston pier, at this breathing-time 
of her hfe ? In the dim sea mist which she gazed upon with 
aching eyes (filled, against her will, with tears, from time to 
time), there rose the little village church of Barford (not three 
miles from Warwick — you may see it yet), where her father 
had preached ever since 1661, long before she was born. He 
and her mother both lay dead in Barford churchyard ; and the 
old low grey church could hardly come before her vision with- 
out her seeing the old parsonage too, the cottage covered with 
Austrian roses and yellow jessamine, where she had been born, 
sole child of parents already long past the prime of youth. She 
saw the path, not a hundred yards long, from the parsonage to 
the vestry door : that path which her father trod daily ; for the 
vestry was his study, and the sanctum, where he pored over the 
ponderous tomes of the Fathers, and compared their precepts 
with those of the authorities of the Anglican Church of that day 
— the day of the later Stuarts ; for Barford Parsonage at that 
time scarcely exceeded in size and dignity the cottages by which 
it was surrounded : it only contained three rooms on a floor, 
and was but two storeys high. On the first, or 'ground floor, 
were the parlour, kitchen, and back or working kitchen ; up- 
stairs, Mr. and Mrs. Barclay's room, that belonging to Lois, 
and the maid-servant's room. If a guest came, Lois left her 
own chamber, and shared old Clemence's bed. But those days 
were over. Never more should Lois see father or mother on 
earth ; they slept, calm and still, in Barford churchyard, care- 
less of what became of their orphan child, as far as earthly 
manifestations of care or love went. And Clemence lay there 
too, bound down in her grassy bed by withes of the briar-rose, 
which Lois had trained over those three precious graves before 
leaving England for ever. 

There were some who would fain have kept her there ; one 
who swore in his heart a great oath unto the Lord that he 
would seek her, sooner or later, if she was still upon the earth. 
But he was the rich heir and only son of the Miller Lucy, 
whose mill stood by the Avon side in the grassy Barford 
meadows, and his father looked higher for him than the penni- 
less daughter of Parson Barclay (so low were clergymen esteemed 
in those days !) ; and the very suspicion of Hugh Lucy's at- 
tachment to Lois Barclay made his parents think it more 
prudent not to offer the orphan a home, although none other 



LOIS THE WITCH. 3O7 

of the parishioners had the means, even if they had the will, 
to do so. 

So Lois swallowed her tears down till the time came for 
crying, and acted upon her mother's words— 

" Lois, thy father is dead of this terrible fever, and I am 
dying. Nay, it is so, though I am easier from pain for these 
few hours, the Lord be praised ! 1 he cruel men of the 
Commonwealth have left thee very friendless. Thy father's 
only brother was shot down at Edgehill. I, too, have a 
brother, though thou hast never heard me speak of him, for 
he was a schismatic ; and thy father and he had words, and 
he left for that new country beyond the seas, without ever 
saying farewell to us. But Ralph was a kind lad until he 
took up these new-fangled notions ; and for the old days' sake 
he will take thee in, and love thee as a child, and place thee 
among his children. Blood is thicker than water. Write to 
him as soon as I am gone — for Lois, I am going ; and I bless 
the Lord that has letten me join my husband again so soon." 
Such was the selfishness of conjugal love ; she thought little 
of Lois's desolation in comparison with her rejoicing over her 
speedy reunion with her dead husband ! " Write to thine uncle, 
Ralph Hickson, Salem, New England (put it down, child, on 
thy tablets), and say that I, Henrietta Barclay, charge him, 
for the sake of all he holds dear in heaven or on earth — for 
his salvation's sake, as well as for the sake of the old home 
at Lester Bridge — for the sake of the father and mother that 
gave us birth, as well as for the sake of the six little children 
who lie dead between him and me — that he take thee into 
his home as if thou wert his own flesh and blood, as indeed 
thou art. He has a wife and children of his own, and no one 
need fear having thee, my Lois, my darling, my baby, among 
his household. O Lois, would that thou wert dying with 
me 1 The thought of thee makes death sore ! " Lois com- 
forted her mother more than herself, poor child, by promises 
to obey her dying wishes to the letter, and by expressing hopes 
she dared not feel of her uncle's kindness. 

" Promise nie "—the dying woman's breath came harder and 
harder — " that thou wilt go at once. The money our goods 
will bring— the letter thy father wrote to Captain Holdernesse,, 
his old schoolfellow — thou knowest all I would say — my Lois, 
God bless thee ! " 



36.8 LOIS^THE WITCH. 

Solemnly did Lois promise ; strictly'she kept her word. It 
was all the more easy, for Hugh Lucy met her, and told her, 
in one great burst of love, of his passionate attachment, his 
vehement struggles with his father, his impotence at present, 
his hopes and resolves for the future. And, intermingled with 
all this, came such outrageous threats and expressions of un- 
controlled vehemence, that Lois felt that in Barford she must 
not linger to be a cause of desperate quarrel between father 
and son, while her absence might soften down matters, 
so that either the rich old miller might relent, or — and her 
heart ached to think of the other possibility — Hugh's love 
might cool, and the dear playfellow of her childhood learn to 
forget. If not — if Hugh were to be trusted in one tithe of what 
he said — God might permit him to fulfil his resolve of coming 
to seek her out before many years were over. It was all in 
God's hands, and that was best, thought Lois Barclay. 

She was aroused out of her trance of recollections by Captain 
Holdernesse, who, having done all that was necessary in the 
way of orders and directions to his mate, now came up to her, 
and, praising her for her quiet patience, told her that he would 
now take her to the Widow Smith's, a decent kind of house, 
where he and many other sailors of the better order were in 
the habit of lodging during their stay on the New England 
shores. Widow Smith, he said, had a parlour for herself and 
her daughters, in which Lois might sit, while he went about 
the business that, as he had told her, would detain him in 
Boston for a day or two, before he could accompany her to 
her uncle's at Salem. All this had been to a certain degree 
arranged on ship-board ; but Captain Holdernesse, for want of 
anything else that he could tliink of to talk about, recapitu- 
lated it as he and Lois walked along. It was his way of 
showing sympathy with the emotion that made her grey eyes 
full of tears, as she started up from the pier at the sound of 
his voice. In his heart he said, " Poor wench ! poor wench ! 
it's a strange land to her, and they are all strange folks, and, 
I reckon, she will be feeling desolate. I'll try and cheer her 
up." So he talked on about hard facts, connected with the 
life that lay before her, until they reached Widow Smith's ; and 
perhaps Lois was more brightened by this style of conversation, 
and the new ideas it presented to her, than she would have 
been by the tenderest woman's sympathy. 



LOIS THE WITCH. 369 

' They are a queer set, these New Englanders," said Captain 
Holdernesse. " They are rare chaps for praying ; down on their 
knees at every turn of their life. Folk are none so busy 
in a new country, else they would have to pray like me, with 
a ' Yo-hoy ! ' on each side of my prayer, and a rope cutting 
like fire through my hand. Yon pilot was for calling us all to 
thanksgiving for a good voyage, and lucky escape from the 
pirates ; but I said I always put up my thanks on dry land, 
after I had got my ship into harbour. The French colonists, 
too, are vowing vengeance for the expedition against Canada, 
and the people here are raging like heathens — at least, as like 
as godly folk can be — for the loss of their charter. All that is 
the news the pilot told me ; for, for all he wanted us to be thanks- 
giving instead of casting the lead, he was as down in the mouth 
as could be about the state of the country. But here we are 
at Widow Smith's ! Now, cheer up, and show the godly a 
pretty smiling Warwickshire lass ! " 

Anybody would have smiled at Widow Smith's greeting. She 
was a comely, motherly woman, dressed in the primmest 
fashion in vogue twenty years before in England, among the 
class to which she belonged. But, somehow, her pleasant face 
gave the lie to her dress ; were it as brown and sober-coloured 
as could be, folk remembered it bright and cheerful, because it 
was a part of Widow Smith herself. 

She kissed Lois on both cheeks, before she rightly under- 
stood who the stranger maiden was, only because she was a 
stranger, and looked sad and forlorn ; and then she kissed 
her again, because Captain Holdernesse commended her to 
the widow's good offices. And so she led Lois by the hand 
into her rough, substantial log-house, over the door of which 
hung a great bough of a tree, by way of sign of entertainment 
for man and horse. Yet not all men were received by Widow 
Smith. To some she could be as cold and reserved as need 
be, deaf to all inquiries save one — where else they could find 
accommodation. To this question she would give a ready 
answer, and speed the unwelcome guest on his way. Widow 
Smith was guided in these matters by instinct : one glance at 
a man's face told her whether or not she chose to have him 
as an inmate of the same house as her daughters ; and her 
promptness of decision in these matters gave her nianner a 
kind of authority which no one liked to disobey, especially as 



2,70 LOIS THE WITCH. 

she had stalwart neighbours within call to back her, if her 
assumed deafness in the first instance, and her voice and 
gesture in the second, were not enough to give the would- 
be guest his dismissal. Widow Smith chose her customers 
merely by their physical aspect ; not one whit with regard to 
their apparent worldly circumstances. Those who had been 
staying at her house once, always came again, for she had the 
knack of making every one beneath her roof comfortable and 
at his ease. Her daughters. Prudence and Hester, had some- 
what of their mother's gifts, but not in such perfection. They 
reasoned a little upon a stranger's appearance, instead of 
knowing at the first moment whether they liked him or no ; 
they noticed the indications of his clothes, the quality and cut 
thereof, as telling somewhat of his station in society ; they 
were more reserved, they hesitated more than their mother ; 
they had not her prompt authority, her happy power. Their 
bread was not so hght, their cream went sometimes to sleep 
when it should have been turning into butter, their hams were 
not always "just like the hams of the old country," as their 
mother's were invariably pronounced to be ; yet they were 
good, orderly, kindly girls, and rose and greeted Lois with 
a friendly shake of the hand, as their mother, with her arm 
round the stranger's waist, led her into the private room which 
she called her parlour. The aspect of this room was strange 
in the English girl's eyes. The logs of which the house was 
built showed here and there through the mud plaster, although 
before both plaster and logs were hung the skins of many 
curious animals — skins presented to the widow by many a 
trader of her acquaintance, just as her sailor-guests brought 
her another description of gift — shells, strings of wampum- 
beads, sea-birds' eggs, and presents from the old country. 
The room was more like a small museum of natural history 
of these days than a parlour ; and it had a strange, pecuhar, 
but not unpleasant smell about it, neutralised in some degree 
by the smoke from the enormous trunk of pinewood which 
smouldered on the hearth. 

The instant their mother told them that Captain Holdernesse 
was in the outer room, the girls began putting away their 
spinning-wheel and knitting needles, and preparing for a meal 
of some kind ; what meal, Lois, sitting there and unconsciously 
watching, could hardly tell. First, dough was set to rise for 



LOIS THE WITCH. 3/1 

cakes ; then came out of a corner cupboard — a present from 
England — an enormous square bottle of a cordial called Golden 
Wasser ; next, a mill for grinding chocolate — a rare, unusual 
treat anywhere at that time ; then a great Cheshire cheese. 
Three venison steaks were cut ready for broiling, fat cold 
pork sliced up and treacle poured over it ; a great pie some- 
thing like a mince-pie, but which the daughters spoke of with 
honour as the " punken-pie," fresh and salt fish brandered, 
oysters cooked in various ways. Lois wondered where would 
be the end of the provisions for hospitably receiving the 
strangers from the old country. At length everything was 
placed on the table, the hot food smoking ; but all was cool, 
not to say cold, before Elder Hawkins (an old neighbour of 
much repute and standing, who had been invited in by Widow 
Smith to hear the news) had finished his grace, into which 
was embodied thanksgiving for the past and prayers for the 
future lives of every individual present, adapted to their several 
cases, as far as the elder could guess at them from appearances. 
This grace might not have ended so soon as it did, had it not 
been for the somewhat impatient drumming of his knife-handle 
on the table with which Captain Holdernesse accompanied the 
latter half of the elder's words. 

When they first sat down to their meal, all were too hungry 
for much talking ; but as their appetites diminished their 
curiosity increased, and there was much to be told and heard 
on both sides. With all the Enghsh intelligence Lois was, of 
course, well acquainted ; but she listened with natural attention 
to all that was said about the new country, and the new people 
among whom she had come to live. Her father had been a 
Jacobite, as the adherents of the Stuarts were beginning at 
this time to be called. His father, again, had been a follower 
of Archbishop Laud ; so Lois had hitherto heard little of the 
conversation, and seen little of the ways of the Puritans. Elder 
Hawkins was one of the strictest of the strict, and evidently 
his presence kept the two daughters of the house considerably 
in awe. But the widow herself was a privileged person ; her 
known goodness of heart (the effects of which had been ex- 
perienced by many) gave her the liberty of speech which was 
tacitly denied to many, under penalty of being esteemed 
ungodly if they infringed certain conventional limits. And 
Captain Holdernesse and his mate spoke out their minds, let 



372 LOIS THE WITCH. 

who would be present. So that, on this first landing in New 
England, Lois was, as it were, gently let down into the midst 
of the Puritan peculiarities, and yet they were sufficient to make 
her feel very lonely and strange. 

The first subject of conversation was the present state of the 
colony — Lois soon found out that, although at the beginning 
she was not a little perplexed by the frequent reference to 
names of places which she naturally associated with the old 
country. Widow Smith was speaking: "In county of Essex 
the folk are ordered to keep four scouts, or companies of 
minute-men ; six persons in each company ; to be on the look- 
out for the wild Indians, who are for ever stirring about in the 
woods, stealthy brutes as they are ! I am sure, I got such a 
fright the first harvest-time after I came over to New England, 
I go on dreaming, now near twenty years after Lothrop's 
business, of painted Indians, with their shaven scalps and 
their war streaks, lurking behind the trees, and coming nearer 
and nearer with their noiseless steps." 

" Yes," broke in one of her daughters ; " and, mother, don't 
you remember how Hannah Benson told us how her husband 
had cut down every tree near his house at Deerbrook, in order 
that no one might come neai him, under cover ; and how one 
evening she was a-sitting in the twilight, when all her family 
were gone to bed, and. her husband gone off to Plymouth on 
business, and she saw a log of wood, just like a trunk of a 
felled tree, lying in the shadow, and thought nothing of it, till, 
on looking again a while after, she fancied it was come a bit 
nearer to the house, and how her heart turned sick with fright, 
and how she dared not stir at first, but shut her eyes while she 
counted a hundred, and looked again, and the shadow was 
deeper, but she could see that the log was nearer ; so she 
ran in and bolted the door, and went up to where her eldest 
lad lay. It was Elijah, and he was but sixteen then ; but 
he rose up at his mother's words, and took his father's long 
duck-gun down, and he tried the loading, and spoke for the 
first time to put up a prayer that God would give his aim 
good guidance, and went to a window that gave a view upon 
the side where the log lay, and fired, and no one dared to 
look what came of it, but all the household read the Scriptures, 
and prayed the whole night long, till morning came and 
showed a long stream of blood lying on the grass close by 



LOIS THE WITCH. 273 

the log, which the full sunlight showed to be no log at all, 
but just a Red Indian covered with bark, and painted most 
skilfully, with his war-knife by his side." 

All were breathless with hstening, though to most the story, 
or such like it, were familiar. Then another took up the tale 
of horror : — • 

" And the pirates have been down at Marblehead since you 
were here, Captain Holdernesse. 'Twas only the last winter 
they landed — French Papist pirates ; and the people kept close 
within their houses, for they knew not what would come of 
it; and they dragged folk ashore. There was one woman 
among those folk — prisoners from some vessel, doubtless — 
and the pirates took them by force to the inland marsh ; and 
the Marblehead folk kept still and quiet, every gun loaded, 
and every ear on the watch, for who knew but what the wild 
sea-robbers might take a turn on land next ; and, in the dead 
of the night, they heard a woman's loud and pitiful outcry 
from the marsh, ' Lord Jesu ! have mercy on me ! Save me 
from' the power of man, O Lord Jesu ! ' And the blood of 
^ all who heard the cry ran cold with terror, till old Nance 
Hickson, who had been stone-deaf and bedridden for years, 
stood up in the midst of the folk all gathered together in her 
grandson's house, and said, that as they, the dwellers in 
Marblehead, had not had brave hearts or faith enough to go 
and succour the helpless, that cry of a dying woman should 
be in their ears, and in their children's ears, till the end of the 
worldo And Nance dropped down dead as soon as she had 
made an end of speaking, and the pirates set sail from Marble- 
head at morning dawn ; but the folk there hear the cry still, 
shrill and pitiful, from the waste marshes, * Lord Jesu ! have 
mercy on me ! Save me from the power of man, O Lord 
Jesu ! ' " 

"And by token," said Elder Hawkins's deep bass voice, 
speaking with the strong nasal twang of the Puritans (who, 
says Butler, 

"Blasphemed custard through the nose"), 

^'^ godly Mn Noyes ordained a fast at Marblehead, and preached 
a soul-stirring discourse on the words, * Inasmuch as ye did it 
not unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye did it not 



374 LOIS THE WITCH. 

unto me.' But it has been borne in upon me at times, whether 
the whole vision of the pirates and the cry of the woman was 
not a device of Satan's to sift the Marblehead folk, and see 
what fruit their doctrine bore, and so to condemn them in the 
sight of the Lord. If it were so, the enemy had a great triumph, 
for assuredly it was no part of Christian men to leave a helpless 
woman unaided in her sore distress." 

"But, Elder,*' said Widow Smith, "it was no vision; they 
were real living men who went ashore, men who broke down 
branches and left their footmarks on the ground." 

"As for that matter, Satan hath many powers, and if it be 
the day when he is permitted to go about like a roaring lion, 
he will not stick at trifles, but make his work complete. I tell 
you, many men are spiritual enemies in visible forms, permitted 
to roam about the waste places of the earth. I myself believe 
that these Red Indians are indeed the evil creatures of whom 
we read in Holy Scripture ; and there is no doubt that they 
are in league with those abominable Papists, the French 
people in Canada. I have heard tell, that the French pay 
the Indians so much gold for every dozen scalps of English- 
men's heads." 

"Pretty cheerful talk this," said Captain Holdernesse to 
Lois, perceiving her blanched cheek and terror-stricken mien. 
"Thou art thinking that thou hadst better have stayed at 
Harford, I'll answer for it, wench. But the devil is not so black 
as he is painted." 

"Ho! there again!" said Elder Hawkins. "The devil is 
painted, it hath been said so from old times ; and are not these 
Indians painted, even like unto their father? ' 

"But is it all true?" asked Lois, aside, of Captain Holder- 
nesse, letting the elder hold forth unheeded by her, though 
listened to, however, with the utmost reverence by the two 
daughters of the house. 

"My wench," said the old sailor, "thou hast come to a 
country where there are many perils, both from land and from 
sea. The Indians hate the white men. Whether other white 
men" (meaning the French away to the north) "have hounded 
on the savages, or whether the English have taken their lands 
and hunting-grounds without due recompense, and so raised 
the cruel vengeance of the wild creatures — who knows? But 
it is true that it is not safe to go far into the woods, for fear of 



LOIS THE WITCH. 375 

the lurking painted savages ; nor has it been safe to build a 
dwelling far from a settlement ; and it takes a brave heart to 
make a journey from one town to another ; and folk do say the 
Indian creatures rise up out of the very ground to waylay the 
English ! and then others affirm they are all in league with 
Satan to affright the Christians out of the heathen country over 
which he has reigned so long. Then, again, the sea-shore is 
infested by pirates, the scum of all nations : they land, and 
plunder, and ravage, and burn, and destroy. Folk get affrighted 
of the real dangers, and in their fright imagine, perchance, 
dangers that are not. But who knows ? Holy Scripture speaks 
of witches and wizards, and of the power of the Evil One in 
desert places ; and even in the old country we have heard tell of 
those who have sold their souls for ever for the little power they 
get for a few years on earth." 

By this time the whole table was silent, listening to the 
captain ; it was just one of those chance silences that sometimes 
occur, without any apparent reason, and often without any 
apparent consequence. But all present had reason, before many 
months had passed over, to remember the words w^hich Lois 
spoke in answer, although her voice was low, and she only 
thought in the interest of the moment of being heard by her old 
friend the captain. 

" They are fearful creatures, the witches ! and yet I am sorry 
for the poor old women, whilst I dread them. We had one in 
Barford, when I was a little child. No one knew whence she 
came, but she settled herself down in a mud hut by the common 
side ; and there she lived, she and her cat." (At the mention 
of the cat, Elder Hawkins shook his head long and gloomily.) 
" No one knew how she lived, if It were not on nettles and scraps 
of oatmeal and such-like food, given her more for fear than for 
pity. She went double, and always talking and muttering to 
herself. Folk said she snared birds and rabbits in the thicket 
that came down to her hovel. How it came to pass I cannot 
say, but many a one fell sick in the village, and much cattle 
died one spring, when I was near four years old. I never 
heard much about it, for my father said it was ill talking about 
such things ; I only know I got a sick fright one afternoon, 
when the maid had gone out for milk and had taken me with 
her, and we were passing a meadow where the Avon, circling, 
makes a deep round pool, and there was a crowd of folk, 



37^ LOIS THE WITCH. 

all still — and a still, breathless crowd makes the heart beat 
worse than a shouting, noisy one. They were all gazing 
towards the water, and the maid held me up in her arms to 
see the sight above the shoulders of the people ; and I saw old 
Hannah in the water, her grey hair all streaming down her 
shoulders, and her face bloody and black with the stones and 
the mud they had been throwing at her, and her cat tied round 
her neck. I hid my face, I know, as soon as I saw the 
fearsome sight, for her eyes met mine as they were glaring with 
fury — poor, helpless, baited creature! — and she caught the 
sight of me, and cried out, ' Parson's wench, parson's wench, 
yonder, in thy nurse's arms, thy dad hath never tried for to save 
me, and none shall save thee when thou art brought up for a 
witch.' Oh ! the words rang in my ears, when I was dropping 
asleep for years after, I used to dream that I was in that pond, 
all men hated me with their eyes because I was a witch : and, 
at times, her black cat used to seem living again, and say over 
those dreadful words." 

Lois stopped : the two daughters looked at her excitement 
with a kind of shrinking surprise, for the tears were in her eyes. 
Elder Hawkins shook his head, and muttered texts from Scrip- 
ture ; but cheerful Widow Smith, not liking the gloomy turn of 
the conversation, tried to give it a hghter cast by saying, *' And 
I don't doubt but what the parson's bonny lass has bewitched 
many a one since, with her dimples and her pleasant ways— eh, 
Captain Holdernesse? Irs you must tell us tales of this young 
lass's doings in England," 

"Ay, ay," said the captain, *' there's one under her charms 
in Warwickshire who v/ill never get the better of it, I'm 
thinking." 

Elder Hawkins rose to speak ; he stood leaning on his hands, 
which were placed on the table i " Brethren," said he, "I must 
upbraid you if ye speak lightly ; charms and witchcraft are evil 
things ; I trust this maiden hath had nothing to do with them, 
even in thought. But my mind misgives me at her story. The 
hellish witch might have power from Satan to infect her mind, 
she being yet a child, with the deadly sin. Instead of vain talk- 
ing, I call upon you all to join with me in prayer for this 
stranger in our land, that her heart may be purged from all 
iniquity. Let us pray." 

*'Come, there's no harm in that," said the captain; "but; 



LOIS THE WITCH. 377 

Elder Hawkins, when you are at work, just pray for us all, 
for I am afeard there be some of us need purging from ini- 
quity a good deal more than Lois Barclay, and a prayer for 
a man never does mischief." 

Captain Holdernesse had business in Boston which detained 
him there for a couple of days, and during that time Lois 
remained with the Widow Smith, seeing what was to be seen of 
the new land that contained her future home. The letter of her 
dying mother was sent off to Salem, meanwhile, by a lad going 
thither, in order to prepare her Uncle Ralph Hickson for his 
niece's coming, as soon as Captain Holdernesse could find 
leisure to take her ; for he considered her given into his own 
personal charge, until he could consign her to her uncle's care. 
When the time came for going to Salem, Lois felt very sad 
at leaving the kindly woman under whose roof she had 
been staying, and looked back as long as she could see any- 
thing of Widow Smith's dwelHng. She was packed into a 
rough kind of country cart, which just held her and Captain 
Holdernesse, beside the driver. There was a basket of pro- 
visions under their feet, and behind them hung a bag of proven- 
der for the horse ; for it was a good day's journey to Salem, and 
the road was reputed so dangerous that it was ill tarrying a 
minute longer than necessary for refreshment. English roads 
were bad enough at that period, and for long after ; but in 
America the way was simply the cleared ground of the for- 
est — the stumps of the felled trees still remaining in the 
direct Hne, forming obstacles, which it required the most care- 
ful driving to avoid ; and in the hollows, where the ground 
was swampy, the pulpy nature of it was obviated by logs of 
wood laid across the boggy part. The deep green forest, 
tangled into heavy darkness even thus early in the year, 
came within a few yards of the road all the way, though efforts 
were regularly made by the inhabitants of the neighbouring 
settlements to keep a certain space clear on each side, for fear of 
the lurking Indians, who might otherwise come upon them 
unawares. The cries of strange birds, the unwonted colour of 
some of them, all suggested to the imaginative or unaccustomed 
traveller the idea of war-whoops and painted deadly enemies. 
But at last they drew near to Salem, which rivalled Boston 
in size in those days, and boasted the name of one or two 
streets, although to an English eye they looked rather more 



37S LOIS THE WITCH. 

like irregularly built houses, clustered round the meeting- 
house, or rather one of the meeting-houses, for a second was in 
process of building. The wliole place was surrounded with two 
circles of stockades ; between the two were the gardens and 
grazing ground for those who dreaded their cattle straying into 
the woods, and the consequent danger of reclaiming them. 

The lad who drove them flogged his spent horse into a trot, 
as they went through Salem to Ralph Hickson's house. It was 
evening, the leisure time for the inhabitants, and their children 
were at play before the houses. Lois was struck by the beauty 
of one wee toddhng child, and turned to look after it ; it caught 
its little foot in a stump of wood, and fell with a cry that 
brought the mother out in affright. As she ran out, her eye 
caught Lois' anxious gaze, although the noise of the heavy 
wheels drowned the sound of her words of inquiry as to the 
nature of the hurt the child had received. Nor had Lois 
time to think long upon the matter, for the instant after, the 
horse was pulled up at the door of a good, square, substantial 
wooden house, plastered over into a creamy white, perhaps 
as handsome a house as any in Salem ; and there she was 
told by the driver that her uncle, Ralph Hickson, lived. In the 
flurry of the moment she did not notice, but Captain Holder- 
nesse did, that no one came out at the unwonted sound of 
wheels, to receive and welcome her. She was lifted down 
by the old sailor, and led into a large room, almost hke the 
hall of some English manor-house as to size. A tall, gaunt 
young man of three or four-and-twenty sat on a bench by 
one of the windows, reading a great folio by the fading light 
of day. He did not rise when they came in, but looked at 
them with surprise, no gleam of intelligence coming into his 
stern, dark face. There was no woman in the house-place. 
Captain Holdernesse paused a moment, and then said — 

" Is this house Ralph Hickson's?'' 

"It is," said the young man, in a slow, deep voice. But 
he added no word further. 

"This is his niece, Lois Barclay," said the captain, taking 
the girl's arm, and pushing her forwards. The young man 
looked at her steadily and gravely for a minute ; then rose, 
and carefully marking the page in the folio, which hitherto 
had lain open upon his knee, said, still in the same heavy, 
indifferent manner, " I will call my mother, she will know." 



LOIS THE WITCH. 379 

He opened a door which looked into a warm bright kitchen, 
ruddy with the hght of the fire, over which three women 
were apparently engaged in cooking something, while a 
fourth, an old Indian woman, of a greenish-brown colour, 
shrivelled up and bent with apparent age, moved backwards 
and forwards, evidently fetching the others the articles they 
required. 

" Mother 1" said the young man; and having arrested her 
attention, he pointed over his shoulder to the newly-arrived 
strangers, and returned to the study of his book, from time 
to time, however, furtively examining Lois from beneath his 
dark shaggy eyebrows. 

A tall, largely-made woman, past middle life, came in 
from the kitchen, and stood reconnoitring the strangers. 

Captain Holdernesse spoke — 

"This is Lois Barclay, master Ralph Hickson's niece." 

"I know nothing of her," said the mistress of the house 
in a deep voice, almost as masculine as her son's. 

"Master Hickson received his sister's letter, did he not? 
I sent it off myself by a lad named Elias Wellcome, who left 
Boston for this place yester morning." 

"Ralph Hickson has received no such letter. He lies bed- 
ridden in the chamber beyond. Any letters for him must come 
through my hands ; wherefore I can affirm with certainty that 
no such letter has been delivered here. His sister Barclay, 
she that was Henrietta Hickson, and whose husband took the 
oaths to Charles Stuart, and stuck by his living when all godly 
men left theirs " • 

Lois, who had thought her heart was dead and cold a 
minute before at the ungracious reception s!ie had met with, 
felt words come up into her mouth at the implied insult to her 
father, and spoke out, to her owm and the captain's astonish- 
ment— 

" They might be godly men who left their churches on that 
day of which you speak, madam ; but they alone were not the 
godly men, and no one has a right to limit true godliness for 
mere opinion's sake." 

"Well said, lass," spoke out the captain, looking round 
upon her with a kind of admiring wonder, and patting her en 
the back. 

Lois and her aunt gazed into each other's eyes unflinchingly. 



580 LOIS THE WITCH. 

for a minute or two of silence ; but the girl felt her colour 
coming and going, while the elder woman's never varied ; 
and the eyes of the young maiden were filling fast with tears, 
while those of Grace Hickson kept on their stare, dry and 
unwavering. 

" Mother," said the young man, rising up with a quicker 
motion than any one had yet used in this house, "it is ill 
speaking of such matters when my cousin comes first among 
us. The Lord may give her grace hereafter, but she has 
travelled from Boston city to-day, and she and this seafaring 
man must need rest and food." 

He did not attend to see the effect of his words, but sat down 
again, and seemed to be absorbed in his book in an instant. 
Perhaps he knew that his word was law with his grim mother, 
for he had hardly ceased speaking before she had pointed to a 
wooden settle ; and smoothing the lines on her countenance, 
she said — ' ' What Manasseh says is true. Sit down here, while 
I bid Faith and Nattee get food ready ; and meanwhile I will 
go tell my husband that one who calls herself his sister's child 
is come over to pay him a visit." 

She went to the door leading into the kitchen, and gave 
some directions to the elder girl, whom Lois now knew to be 
the daughter of the house. Faith stood impassive, while her 
mother spoke, scarcely caring to look at the newly-arrived 
strangers. She was hke her brother Manasseh in complexion, 
but had handsomer features, and large mysterious-looking eyes, 
as Lois saw, when once she lifted them up, and took in as it 
were the aspect of the sea-captain and her cousin with one 
swift, searching look. About the stiff, tall, angular mother, 
and the scarce less pliant figure of the daughter, a girl of 
twelve years old, or thereabouts, played all manner of impish 
antics, unheeded by them, as if it were her accustomed habit 
to peep about, now under their arms, now at this side, now 
at that, making grimaces all the while at Lois and Captain 
Holdernesse, who sat facing the door, weary, and some- 
what disheartened by their reception. The captain pulled out 
tobacco, and began to chew it by way of consolation ; but in a 
moment or two his usual elasticity of spirit came to his rescue, 
and he said in a low voice to Lois — 

" That scoundrel Elias, I will give it him ! If the letter had 
but been dehvered, thou wouldst have had a different kind of 



LOIS THE WITCH. 38 1 

welcome ; but as soon as I have had some victuals, I will go 
out and find the lad, and bring back the letter, and that will 
make all. right, my wench. Nay, don't be down-hearted, for I 
cannot stand women's tears. Thou'rt just worn-out with the 
shaking and the want of food." 

Lois brushed away her tears, and looking round to try and 
divert her thoughts by fixing them on present objects, she 
caught her cousin Manasseh's deep-set eyes furtively watching 
her. It was with no unfriendly gaze, yet it made Lois uncom- 
fortable, particularly as he did not withdraw his looks after he 
must have seen that she observed him. She was glad when 
her aunt called her into an inner room to see her uncle, and 
she escaped from the steady observance of her gloomy, silent 
cousin. 

Ralph Hickson was much older than his wife, and his illness 
made him look older still. He had never had the force of 
character that Grace, his spouse, possessed, and age and sick- 
ness had now rendered him almost childish at times. But his 
nature was affectionate, and stretching out his trembling arms 
from where he lay bedridden, he gave Lois an unhesitating wel- 
come, never waiting for the confirmation of the missing letter 
before he acknowledged her to be his niece. 

" Oh ! 'tis kind in thee to come all across the sea to make 
acquaintance with thine uncle ; kind in sister Barclay to spare 
thee ! " 

Lois had to tell him there was no one living to miss her at 
home in England ; that in fact she had no home in England, no 
father nor mother left upon earth ; and that ?he had been 
bidden by her mother's last words to seek him out and ask him 
for a home. Her words came up, half-choked from a heavy 
heart, and his dulled wits could not take their meaning in with- 
out several repetitions ; and then he cried like a child, rather 
at his own loss of a sister whom he had not seen for more than 
twenty years, than at that of the orphan's standing before him, 
trying hard not to cry, but to start bravely in this new strange 
home. What most of all helped Lois in her self-restraint was 
her aunt's unsympathetic look. Born and bred in New Eng- 
land, Grace Hickson had a kind of jealous dislike to her 
husband's English relations, which had increased since of late 
years his weakened mind yearned after them, and he forgot the 
good reason he had had for his self-exile, and moaned over the 



382 LOIS THE WITCH. 

decision which had led to it as the great mistake of his hfe. 
" Come," said she, "it strikes me that, in all this sorrow for 
the loss of one who died fall of years, ye are forgetting in 
Whose hands life and death are ! " 

True words, but ill-spoken at that time. Lois looked up at 
her with a scarcely-disguised indignation ; which increased as 
she heard the contemptuous tone in which her aunt went on 
talking to Ralph Hickson, even while she was arranging his bed 
with a regard to his greater comfort. 

" One would think thou wert a godless man by the moan 
thou art always making over spilt milk ; and truth is, thou art 
but childish in thine old age. When we were wed, thou left 
all things to the Lord ; I would never have married thee else. 
Nay, lass," said she, catching the expression on Lois's face, 
" thou art never going to browbeat me with thine angry looks. 
I do my duty as I read it, and there is never a man in Salem 
that dare speak a word to Grace Hickson about either her 
works or her faith. Godly Mr. Cotton Mather hath said, that 
even he might learn of me ; and I would advise thee rather to 
humble thyself, and see if the Lord may not convert thee from 
thy ways, since He has sent thee to dwell, as it were, in Zion, 
where the precious dew tails daily on Aaron's beard." 

Lois felt ashamed and sorry to find that her aunt had so 
truly interpreted the momentary expression of her features ; 
she blamed herself a little for the feeling that had caused that 
expression, trying to think how much her aunt might have been 
troubled with something before the unexpected irruption of the 
strangers, and again hoping that the remembrance of this mis- 
understanding would soon pass away. So she endeavoured to 
reassure herself, and not to give way to her uncle's tender 
trembling pressure of her hand, as, at her aunt's bidding, she 
wished him "good-night," and returned into the outer, or 
^'keeping" room, where all the family were now assembled, 
ready for the meal of flour-cakes and venison-steaks which 
Nattee, the Indian servant, was bringing in from the kitchen. 
No one seemed to have been speaking to Captain Holdernesse 
while Lois had been away. Manasseh sat quiet and silent 
where he did, with the book open upon his knee, his eyes 
thoughtfully fixed on vacancy, as if he saw a vision, or dreamed 
dreams. Faith stood by the table, lazily directing Nattee in 
her preparations ; and Prudence lolled against the door-frame, 



LOIS THE WITCH. 383 

between kitchen and keeping-room, playing tricks on the old 
Indian woman as she passed backwards and forwards, till 
Nattee appeared to be in a strong state of expressed irritation, 
which she tried in vain to repress, as whenever she showed 
any sign of it. Prudence only seemed excited to greater mis- 
chief. When all was ready, Manasseh lifted his right hand, 
and "asked a blessing,"* as it was termed; but the grace 
became a long prayer for abstract spiritual blessings, for 
strength to combat Satan, and to quench his fiery darts, and 
at length assumed, so Lois thought, a purely personal character, 
as if the young man had forgotten the occasion, and even the 
people present, but was searching into the nature of the diseases 
that beset his own sick soul, and spreading them out before 
the Lord. He was brought back by a pluck at the coat from 
Prudence ; he opened his shut eyes, cast an angry glance at 
the child, who made a face at him for sole reply, and then he 
sat down, and they all fell to. Grace Hickson would have 
thought her hospitality sadly at fault if she had allowed Captain 
Holdernesse to go out in search of a bed. Skins were spread 
for him on the floor of the keeping-room ; a Bible and a square 
bottle of spirits were placed on the table to supply his wants 
during the night ; and in spite of all the cares and troubles, 
temptations, or sins of the members of that household, they 
were all asleep before the town clock struck ten. 

In the morning the captain's first care was to go out in search 
of the boy Elias and the missing letter. He met him bringing 
it with an easy conscience, for, thought Elias, a few hours 
sooner or later will make no difference ; to-night or the morrow 
morning will be all the same. But he was startled into a sense 
of wrong-doing by a sound box on the ear from the very man 
who had charged him to deliver it speedily, and whom he 
believed to be at that very moment in Boston city. 

The letter delivered, all possible proof being given that Lois 
had a right to claim a home from her nearest relations. Captain 
Holdernesse thought it best to take leave. 

" Thou'lt take to them, lass, maybe, when there is no one 
here to make thee think on the old country. Nay, nay ! parting 
is hard work at all times, and best get hard work done out 
of hand. Keep up thine heart, my wench, and I'll come back 
and see thee next spring, if we are all spared till then ; and 
who knows what fine young miller mayn't come with me? 



384 LOIS THE WITCH. 

Don't go and get wed to a praying Puritan, meanwhile. There, 
there ; I'm off. God bless thee ! " 
And Lois was left alone in New England. 



CHAPTER II. 

It was hard uphill work for Lois to win herself a place in this 
family. Her aunt was a woman of narrow, strong affections. 
Her love for her husband, if ever she had any, was burnt out 
and dead long ago. What she did for him she did from duty ; 
but duty was not strong enough to restrain that little member 
the tongue ; and Lois's heart often bled at the continual flow 
of contemptuous reproof which Grace constantly addressed to 
her husband, even while she was sparing no pains or trouble 
to minister to his bodily ease and comfort. It was more as a 
relief to herself that she spoke in this way, than with any desire 
that her speech should affect him ; and he was too deadened 
by illness to feel hurt by them ; or, it may be, the constant 
repetition of her sarcasms had made him indifferent ; at any 
rate, so that he had his food and his state of bodily warmth 
attended to, he very seldom seemed to care much for anything 
else. Even his first flow of affection towards Lois was soon 
exhausted ; he cared for her because she arranged his pillows 
well and skilfully, and because she could prepare new and 
dainty kinds of food for his sick appetite, but no longer for 
her as his dead sister's child. Still he did care for her, and 
Lois was too glad of this little hoard of affection to examine 
how or why it was given. To him she could give pleasure, but 
apparently to no one else in that household. Her aunt looked 
askance at her for many reasons : the first coming of Lois to 
Salem was inopportune, the expression of disapprobation on 
her face on that evening still lingered and rankled in Grace's 
memory ; early prejudices, and feelings, and prepossessions 
of the English girl were all on the side of what would now 
be called Church and State, what was then esteemed in that 
country a superstitious observance of the directions of a Popish 
rubric, and a servile regard for the family of an oppressing and 



LOIS THE WITCH. 385 

irreligious king. Nor is it to be supposed that Lois did not 
feel, and feel acutely, the want of sympathy that all those 
with whom she was now living manifested towards the old 
hereditary loyalty (religious as well as political loyalty) in which 
she had been brought up. With her aunt and Manasseh it 
was more than want of sympathy ; it was positive, active anti- 
pathy to all the ideas Lois held most dear. The very allusion, 
however incidentally made, to the little old grey church at 
Barford, where her father had preached so long — the occasional 
reference to the troubles in which her own country had been 
distracted when she left — and the adherence, in which she had 
been brought up, to the notion that the king could do no 
wrong, seemed to irritate Manasseh past endurance. He would 
get up from his reading, his constant employment when at 
home, and walk angrily about the room after Lois had said 
anything of this kind, muttering to himself; and once he had 
even stopped before her, and in a passionate tone bade her 
not talk so like a fool. Now this was very different to his 
mother's sarcastic, contemptuous way of treating all poor Lois's 
little loyal speeches. Grace would lead her on — at least she did at 
first, till experience made Lois wiser — to express her thoughts 
on such subjects, till, just when the girl's heart was opening, 
her aunt would turn round upon her with some bitter sneer 
that roused all the evil feelings in Lois's disposition by its sting. 
Now Manasseh seemed, through all his anger, to be so really 
grieved by what he considered her error, that he went much 
nearer to convincing her that there might be two sides to a 
question. Only this was a view that it appeared like treachery 
to her dead father's memory to entertain. 

Somehow, Lois felt instinctively that Manasseh was really 
friendly towards her. He was little in the house; there was 
farming, and some kind of mercantile business to be transacted 
by him, as real head of the house ; and as the season drew 
on, he went shooting and hunting in the surrounding forests, 
with a daring which caused his mother to warn and reprove 
him in private, although to the neighbours she boasted largely 
of her son's courage and disregard of danger. Lois did not 
often walk out for the mere sake of walking, there was gene- 
rally some household errand to be transacted when any of the 
women of the family went abroad ; but once or twice she 
had caught glimpses of the dreary, dark wood, hemming, in 



386 LOIS THE WITCH. 

the cleared land on all sides — the great wood with its perpetual 
movement of branch and bough, and its solemn wail, that 
came into the very streets of Salem when certain winds blew, 
bearing the sound of the pine-trees clear upon the ears that 
had leisure to listen. And from all accounts, this old forest, 
girdling round the settlement, was full of dreaded and mysteri- 
ous beasts, and still more to be dreaded Indians, stealing in 
and out among the shadows, intent on bloody schemes against 
the Christian people : panther-streaked, shaven Indians, in 
league by their own confession, as well as by the popular 
belief, with evil powers. 

Nattee, the old Indian servant, would occasionally make 
Lois's blood run cold as she and Faith and Prudence listened 
to the wild stories she told them of the wizards of her race. 
It was often in the kitchen, in the darkening evening, while 
some cooking process was going on, that the old Indian crone,, 
sitting on her haunches by the bright red wood embers which 
sent up no flame, but a lurid light reversing the shadows of 
all the faces around, told her weird stories while they were 
awaiting the rising of the dough, perchance, out of which the 
household bread had to be made. There ran through these 
stories always a ghastly, unexpressed suggestion of some human 
sacrifice being needed to complete the success of any incanta- 
tion to the Evil One ; and the poor old creature, herself believ- 
ing and shuddering as she narrated her tale in broken English, 
took a strange, unconscious pleasure in her power over her 
hearers — young girls of the oppressing race, which had brought 
her down into a state little differing from slavery, and reduced 
her people to outcasts on the hunting-grounds which had be- 
longed to her fathers. 

After such tales, it required no small effort on Lois's part 
to go out, at her aunt's command, into the common pasture 
round the town, and bring the cattle home at night. Who 
knew but what the double-headed snake might start up from 
each blackberry-bush — that wicked, cunning, accursed creature 
in the service of the Indian wizards, that had such power over 
all those white maidens who met the eyes placed at either 
end of his long, sinuous, creeping body, so that loathe him, 
loathe the Indian race as they would, off they must go into 
the forest to seek out some Indian man, and must beg to 
be taken into his wigwam, adjuring faith and race for ever? 



LOIS THE WITCH. 3S7 

Or there were spellS' — so Nattee said — hidden about the ground 
by the wizards, which changed that person's nature who found 
tliem ; so that, gentle and loving as they might have been 
before, thereafter they took no pleasure but in the cruel tor- 
ments of others, and had a strange power given to them of 
causing such torments at their will. Once Nattee, speaking 
low to Lois, who was alone with her in the kitchen, whispered 
out her terrified belief that such a spell had Prudence found ; 
and when the Indian showed her arms to Lois, all pinched 
black and blue by the impish child, the English girl began 
to be afraid of her cousin as of one possessed. But it was 
not Nattee alone, nor young imaginative girls alone, that 
believed in these stories. We can afford to smile at them 
now ; but our English ancestors entertained superstitions of 
much the same character at the same period, and with less 
excuse, as the circumstances surrounding them v/ere better 
known, and consequently more explicable by common sense 
than the real mysteries of the deep, untrodden forests of 
New England. The gravest divines not only believed stories 
similar to that of the double-headed serpent, and other tales 
of witchcraft, but they made such narrations the subjects 
of preaching and prayer ; and as cowardice makes us all 
cruel, men who were blameless in many of the relations 
of hfe, and even praiseworthy in some, became, from supersti- 
tion, cruel persecutors about this time, showing no mercy 
towards any one whom they believed to be in league with the 
Evil One. 

Faith was the person with whom the English girl was the 
most intimately associated in her uncle's house. The two were 
about the same age, and certain household employments were 
shared between them. They took it in turns to call in the 
cows, to make up the butter which had been churned by 
Hosea, a stiff, old out-door servant, in whom Grace Hickson 
placed great confidence ; and each lassie had her great 
spinning-wheel for wool, and her lesser for flax, before a 
month had elapsed after Lois's coming. Faith was a grave, 
silent person, never merry, sometimes very sad, though Lois 
was a long time in even guessing why. She would try in her 
sweet, simple fashion to cheer her cousin up, when the latter 
was depressed, by telling her old stories of EngHsh ways and 
life. Occasionally, Faith seemed to care to listen, occasionally 



388 LOIS THE WITCH. 

she did not heed one word, but dreamed on. Whether of the 
past or of the future, who could tell ? 

Stern old ministers came in to pay their pastoral visits. On 
such occasions Grace Hickson would put on clean apron and 
clean cap, and make them more welcome than she was ever 
seen to do any one else, bringing out the best provisions of 
her store, and setting of all before them. Also, the great Bible 
was brought forth, and Hosea and Nattee summoned from 
their work to listen while the minister read a chapter, and, 
as he read, expounded it at considerable length. After this 
all knelt, while he, standing, lifted up his right hand, and 
prayed for all possible combinations of Christian men, for all 
possible cases of spiritual need ; and lastly, taking the 
individuals before him, he would put up a very personal 
supplication for each, according to his notion of their wants. 
At first Lois wondered at the aptitude of one or two of his 
prayers of this description to the outward circumstances of 
each case ; but when she perceived that her aunt had usually 
a pretty long confidential conversation with the minister in 
the early part of his visit, she became aware that he received 
both his impressions and his knowledge through the medium 
of " that godly woman, Grace Hickson ; " and I am afraid 
she paid less regard to the prayer " for the maiden from another 
land, who hath brought the errors of that land as a seed with 
her, even across the great ocean, and who is letting even now 
the httle seeds shoot up into an evil tree, in which all unclean 
creatures may find shelter." 

"I like the prayers of our Church better," said Lois one 
day to Faith. ' ' No clergyman in England can pray his own 
words, and therefore it is that he cannot judge of others so 
as to fit his prayers to what he esteems to be their case, as 
Mr. Tappau did this morning." 

"I hate Mr. Tappau ! " said Faith shortly, a passionate flash 
of light coming out of her dark, heavy eyes. 

" Why so, cousin? It seems to me as if he were a good man, 
although I like not his prayers." 

Faith only repeated her words, " I hate him." 

Lois was sorry for this strong, bad feeling ; instinctively 
sorry, for she was loving herself, delighted in being loved, 
and felt a jar run through her at every sign of want of love 
in others. But she did not know what to say, and was silent 



LOIS THE WITCH. 389 

at the time. Faith, too, went on turning her wheel with 
vehemence, but spoke never a word nntil her thread snapped, 
and then she pushed the wheel away hastily, and left the 
room. 

Then Prudence crept softly up to Lois's side. This strange 
child seemed to be tossed about by varying moods : to-day 
she was caressing and communicative ; to-morrow she might be 
deceitful, mocking, and so indifferent to the pain or sorrows 
of others that you could call her almost inhuman. 

"So thou dost not like Pastor Tappau's prayers?" she 
whispered. 

Lois was sorry to have been overheard, but she neither would 
nor could take back her words. 

' ' I like them not so well as the prayers I used to hear at 
home." 

• ' Mother says thy home was with the ungodly. Nay, don't 
look at me so — it was not I that said it. I'm none so fond 
of praying myself, nor of Pastor Tappau for that matter. But 
Faith cannot abide him, and I know why. Shall I tell thee, 
Cousin Lois?" 

• • No ! Faith did not tell me, and she was the right person 
to give her own reasons." 

' ' Ask her where young Mr. Nolan is gone to, and thou wilt 
hear. I have seen Faith cry by the hour together about Mr. 
Nolan." 

"Hush, child! hush!" said Lois, for she heard Faith's 
approaching step, and feared lest she should overhear what 
they were saying. 

The truth was that, a year or two before, there had been 
a great struggle in Salem village, a great division in the 
religious body, and Pastor Tappau had been the leader of the 
more violent, and, ultimately, the successful party. In conse- 
quence of this, the less popular minister, Mr. Nolan, had 
had to leave the place. And him Faith Hickson loved with 
all the strength of her passionate heart, although he never 
was aware of the attachment he had excited, and her own 
family were too regardless of manifestations of mere feeling 
to ever observe the signs of any emotion on her part. But 
the old Indian servant Nattee saw and observed them all. 
She knew, as well as if she had been told the reason, why 
Faith had lost all care about father or mother, brother and 



39^ LOIS THE WITCH. 

sister, about household work and daily occupation, nay, 
about the observances of religion as well. Nattee read the 
meaning of the deep smouldering of Faith's dislike to Pastor 
Tappau aright ; the Indian woman understood why the girl 
(whom alone of all the white people she loved) avoided the 
old minister — would hide in the wood-stack sooner than be 
called in to listen to his exhortations and prayers. With 
savage, untutored people, it is not "Love me, love my dog," 
they are often jealous of the creature beloved ; but it is, 
" Whom thou hatest I will hate ; " and Nattee's feeling towards 
Pastor Tappau was even an exaggeration of the mute, unspoken 
hatred of Faith. 

For a long time, the cause of her cousin's dislike and 
avoidance of the minister was a mystery to Lois ; but the 
name of Nolan remained in her memory whether she would 
or no, and it was more from girlish interest in a suspected 
love affair, than from any indifferent and heartless curiosity, 
that she could not help piecing together little speeches and 
actions, with Faith's interest in the absent banished minister, 
for an explanatory clue, till not a doubt remained in her mind. 
And this without any further communication with Prudence, 
for Lois declined hearing any more on the subject from her, 
and so gave deep offence. 

Faith grew sadder and duller as the autumn drew on. 
She lost her appetite, her brown complexion became sallow 
and colourless, her dark eyes looked hollow and wild. The 
first of November was near at hando Lois, in her instinc- 
tive, well-intentioned efforts to bring some life and cheer^ 
fulness into the monotonous household, had been telling 
Faith of many English customs, silly enough, no doubt, 
and which scarcely lighted up a flicker of interest in the 
American girl's mind. The cousins were lying awake in 
their bed in the great unplastered room, which, was in part 
store-room, in part bedroom. I^ois -was full of sympathy 
for Faith that night. For long she had listened to her 
cousin's heavy, irrepressible sighs, in silence. Faith sighed 
because her grief was of too old a date for violent emotion 
or crying. Lois listened without speaking in the dark, 
quiet night hou:-s, for a long, long time. She kept quite 
still, because she thought such vent for sorrow might re- 
lieve her cousin's weary heart. But when at length, instead 



LOIS THE WITCH.. 39 1 

of lying motionless, Faith seemed to be growing restless even 
to convulsive motions of her limbs, Lois began to speak, to 
talk about England, and the dear old ways at home, with- 
out exciting much attention on Faith's part, until at length 
she fell upon the subject of Hallow-e'en, and told about 
customs then and long afterwards practised in England, 
and that have scarcely yet died out in Scotland. As she 
told of tricks she had often played, of the apple eaten facing 
a mirror, of the dripping sheet, of the basins of water, of 
the nuts burning side by side, and many other such inno- 
cent ways of divination, by which laughing, trembling 
Enghsh maidens sought to see the form of their future 
husbands, if husbands they were to have, then Faith 
listened breathlessly, asking short eager questions, as if 
some ray of hope had entered into her gloomy heart. Lois 
went on speaking, telling her of all the stories that would 
confirm the truth of the second sight vouchsafed to all 
seekers in the accustomed methods, half-believing, half- 
incredulous herself, but desiring, above all things, to cheer 
up poor Faith. 

Suddenly, Prudence rose up from her truckle-bed in the 
dim corner of the roomo They had not thought that she, 
was awake, but she had been listening long. 

" Cousin Lois may go out and meet Satan by the brook- 
side if she will, but if thou goest, Faith, I will tell mother 
— ay, and I will tell Pastor Tappau, too. Hold thy stories, 
Cousin Lois, I am afeared of my very life. I would rather 
never be wed at all, than feel the touch of the creature, 
that would take the apple out of my hand, as. I held it over 
my left shoulder." The excited girl gave a loud scream of 
terror at the image her fancy had conjured up. Faith and 
Lois sprang out towards her, flying across the moonlit 
room in their white night-gowns. At the same instant, sum- 
moned by the same cry, Grace Hickson came to her child. 

*' Hush! hush ! " said Faith authoritatively. 

"What is it, my wench?" asked Grace. While Lois, 
feeling as if she had done all the mischief, kept silence. 
- *' Take her away, take her awayl/'' screamed Prudence. 
^" Look .over her shoulder — her left shoulder — the Evil One 
-is there -now, I see him stretching over for the half-bitten 
appler" - ...... 



392 LOIS THE WITCH. 

" What is it she says ? " said Grace austerely. 

"She is dreaming," said Faith; "Prudence, hold thy 
tongue." And she pinched the child severely, while Lois 
more tenderly tried to soothe the alarms she felt that she 
had conjured up. 

"Be quiet, Prudence," said she, "and go to sleep. I will 
stay by thee till thou hast gone off into slumber." 

" No, no ! go away," sobbed Prudence, who was really 
terrified at first, but was now assuming more alarm than she 
felt, from the pleasure she received at perceiving herself the 
centre of attention. " Faith shall stay by me, not you, 
wicked English witch ! " 

So Faith sat by her sister ; and Grace, displeased and 
perplexed, withdrew to her own bed, purposing to inquire 
more into the matter in the morning. Lois only hoped it 
might all be forgotten by that time, and resolved never to 
talk again of such things. But an event happened in the 
remaining hours of the night to change the current of 
affairs. While Grace had been absent from her room, her 
husband had had another paralytic stroke : whether he, 
too, had been alarmed by that eldritch scream no one 
could ever know. By the faint hght of the rush-candle 
burning at the bed-side, his wife perceived that a greal 
change had taken place in his aspect on her return : the 
irregular breathing came almost like snorts — the end was 
drawing near. The family were roused, and all help given 
that either the doctor or experience could suggest. But 
before the late November morning light, all was ended for 
Ralph Hickson. 

The whole of the ensuing day, they sat or moved in darkened 
rooms, and spoke few words, and those below their breath. 
Manasseh kept at home, regretting his father, no doubt, 
but showing little emodon. Faith was the child that be- 
wailed her loss most grievously ; she had a warm heart, 
hidden away somewhere under her moody exterior, and her 
father had shown her far more passive kindness than ever 
her mother had done, for Grace made distinct favourites 
of Manasseh, her only son, and Prudence, her youngest 
child. Lois was about as unhappy as any of them, for she 
had felt strongly drawn towards her uncle as her kindest 
friend, and the sense of his loss renewed the old sorrow 



LOIS THE WITCH. 393 

she had experienced at her own parent's death. But she 
had no time and no place to cry in. On her devolved 
many of the cares, which it would have seemed indecorous 
in the nearer relatives to interest themselves in enough to 
take an active part ; the change required in their dress, the 
household preparations for the sad feast of the funeral — Lois 
had to arrange all under her aunt's stern direction. 

But a day or two afterwards — the last day before the funeral 
— she went into the yard to fetch in some fagots for the oven : 
it was a solemn, beautiful, starlit evening, and some sudden 
sense of desolation in the midst of the vast universe thus 
revealed touched Lois's heart, and she sat down behind the 
woodstack, and cried very plentiful tears. 

She was startled by Manasseh, who suddenly turned the 
corner of the stack, and stood before her. 

" Lois crying ! " 

"Only a little," she said, rising up, and gathering her 
bundle of fagots, for she dreaded being questioned by her 
grim, impassive cousin. To her surprise, he laid his hand 
on her arm, and said — 

"Stop one minute. Why art thou crying, cousin? " 

"I don't know," she said, just like a child questioned in like 
manner ; and she was again on the point of weeping. 

"My father was very kind to thee, Lois; I do not wonder 
that thou grievest after him. But the Lord who taketh away 
can restore tenfold. I will be as kind as my father — yea, 
kinder. This is not a time to talk of marriage and giving in 
marriage. But after we have buried our dead, I wish to speak 
to thee." 

Lois did not cry now, but she shrank with affright. What 
did her cousin mean? She would far rather that he had 
been angry with her for unreasonable grieving, for folly. 

She avoided him carefully — as carefully as she could, with- 
out seeming to dread him — for the next few days. Some- 
times she thought it must have been a bad dream ; for if 
there had been no English lover in the case, no other man 
in the whole world, she could never have thought of Manasseh 
as her husband ; indeed, till now, there had been nothing 
in his words or actions to suggest such an idea. Now it 
had been suggested, there was no telling how much she 
loathed him. He might be eood, and pious— he doubtless 

N 2 



394 LOIS THE WITCH. 

was— but his dark fixed eyes, moving so slowly and heavily, 
his lank black hair, his grey coarse skin, all made her dislike 
him now — all his personal ugliness and ungainliness struck on 
her senses with a jar, since those few words spoken behind the 
haystack. 

She knew that sooner or later the time must come for further 
discussion of this subject ; but, like a coward, she tried to 
put it off by clinging to her aunt's apron-string, for she was 
sure that Grace Hickson had far different views for her only 
son. As, indeed, she had, for she was an ambitious, as 
v/ell as a religious woman ; and by an early purchase of 
land in Salem village, the Hicksons had become wealthy 
people, without any great exertions of their ov^-n ; partly, 
also, by the silent process of accumulation, for they had 
never cared to change their manner of living from the time 
when it had been suitable to a far smaller income than that 
which they at present enjoyed. So much for worldly circum- 
stances. As for their worldly character, it stood as high. 
No one could say a word against any of their habits or 
actions. The righteousness and godliness were patent to 
every one's eyes. So Grace Hickson thought herself entitled 
to pick and choose among the maidens, before she should 
meet with one fitted to be Manasseh's wife. None in Salem 
came up to her imaginary standard. She had it in her mind 
even at this very time, so soon after her husband's death, 
to go to Boston, and take counsel with the leading ministers 
there, with worthy Mr. Cotton Mather at their head, and see 
if they could tell her of a well-favoured and godly young 
maiden in their congregations worthy of being the wife of 
her son. But, besides good looks and godliness, the wench 
must have good birth and good wealth, or Grace Hickspn 
would have put her contemptuously on one side. When once 
this paragon was found, and the ministers had approved, 
Grace anticipated no difficulty on her son's part. So Lois 
v/as right in feeling that her aunt would dislike any speech 
of marriage between Manasseh and herself. 

But the girl was brought to bay one day in this wise. 
Manasseh had ridden forth on some business, which every 
one said would occupy him the whole day ; but, meeting 
the man with whom he had to transact his affairs, he returned 
earher than any one expected. He missed Lois from the 



I 



LOIS THE WITCH. 395 

keeping-room where his sisters were spinning, almost im- 
mediately. His mother sat by at her knitting ; he could 
see Nattee in the kitchen through the open door. He was 
too reserved to ask where Lois was, but he quietly sought 
till he found her, in the great loft, already piled with winter 
stores of fruit and vegetables. Her aunt had sent her there 
to examine the apples one by one, and pick out such as 
v/ere unsound for immediate use. She was stooping down, 
and intent upon this work, and was hardly aware of his 
approach, until she lifted up her head and saw him standing 
close before her. She dropped the apple she was holding, 
went a little paler than her wont, and faced him in silence. 

"Lois," he said, "thou rememberest the words that I spoke 
while we yet mourned over my father. I think that I am called 
to marriage now, as the head of this household. And I have 
seen no maiden so pleasant in my sight as thou art, Lois ! " 
He tried to take her hand. But she put it behind her with a 
childish shake of her head, and, half-crying, said — 

"Please, Cousin Manasseh, do not say this to me. I 
dare say you ought to be married, being the head of the 
household now ; but I don't want to be married. I would 
rather not." 

"That is well spoken," replied he, frowning a little, never- 
theless. "I should not like to take to wife an over forward 
maiden, ready to jump at wedlock. Besides, the congregation 
might talk, if we were to be married too soon after my father's 
death. We have, perchance, said enough, even now. But 
I wished thee to have thy mind set at ease as to thy future 
well-doing. Thou wilt have leisure to think of it, and to 
bring thy mind more fully round to it." Again he held 
out his hand. This time she took hold of it with a free, frank 
gesture. 

" I owe you somewhat for your kindness to me ever since 
I came. Cousin Manasseh ; and I have no way of paying 
you but by telling you truly I can love you as a dear friend, 
if you will let me, but never as a wife." 

He flung her hand away, but did not take his eyes off her 
face, though his glance was lowering and gloomy. He 
muttered something which she did not quite hear, and so 
she went on bravely, although she kept trembling a httle, 
and had much ado to keep from crying. 



39^ LOIS THE WITCH. 

"Please let me tell you all. There was a young man in 
Barford — nay, Manasseh, I cannot speak if you are so angry ; 
it is hard work to tell you anyhow — he said that he wanted to 
marry me ; but I was poor, and his father would have none 
of it ; and I do not want to marry any one ; but if I did, it 

would be" Her voice dropped, and her blushes told the 

rest. Manasseh stood looking at her with sullen, hollow eyes, 
that had a gathering touch of wildness in them, and then he 
said — 

" It is borne in upon me — verily, I see it as in a vision — that 
thou must be my spouse, and no other man's. Thou canst 
not escape what is foredoomed. Months ago, when I set 
myself to read the old godly books in which my soul used to 
delight until thy coming ; I saw no letter of printer's ink 
marked on the page, but I saw a gold and ruddy type of 
some unknown language, the meaning whereof was whispered 
into my soul ; it was, * Marry Lois ! marry Lois ! ' And when 
my father died, I knew it was the beginning of the end. It 
is the Lord's will, Lois, and thou canst not escape from it." 
And again he would have taken her hand, and drawn her 
towards him. But this time she eluded him with ready move- 
ment. 

" I do not acknowledge it to be the Lord's will, Manasseh," 
said she. " It is not 'borne in upon me,' as you Puritans call 
it, that I am to be your wife. I am none so set upon wed- 
lock as to take you, even though there be no other chance 
for me. For I do not care for you as I ought to care for 
my husband. But I could have cared for you very much as 
a cousin — as a kind cousin." 

She stopped speaking ; she could not choose the right words 
with which to speak to him of her gratitude and friendliness, 
which yet could never be any feeling nearer and dearer, no 
more than two parallel lines can ever meet. 

But he was so convinced by what he considered the spirit of 
prophecy, that Lois was to be his wife, that he felt rather more 
indignant at what he considered to be her resistance to the pre- 
ordained decree, than really anxious as to the result. Again he 
tried to convince her that neither he nor she had any choice in 
the matter, by saying — 

"The voice said unto me ' Marry Lois,' and I said, ' I will, 
Lord.'" 



LOIS THE WITCH. 39/ 

"But," Lois replied, "the voice, as you call it, has never 
spoken such a word to me." 

"Lois," he answered solemnly, "it will speak. And then 
wilt thou obey, even as Samuel did?" 

"No; indeed I cannot!" she answered briskly. "I may 
take a dream to be truth, and hear my own fancies, if I think 
about them too long. But I cannot marry any one from 
obedience." 

" Lois, Lois, thou art as yet unregenerate ; but I have seen 
thee in a vision as one of the elect, robed in white. As yet 
thy faith is too weak for thee to obey meekly, but it shall 
not always be so. I will pray that thou mayest see thy pre- 
ordained course. Meanwhile, I will smooth away all worldly 
obstacles." 

"Cousin Manasseh"! Cousin Manasseh ! " cried Lois after 
him, as he was leaving the room, "come back. I cannot put 
it in strong enough words. Manasseh, there is no power in 
heaven or earth that can make me love thee enough to marry 
thee, or to wed thee without such love. And this I say solemnly, 
because it is better that this should end at once." 

For a moment he was staggered : then he lifted up his hands 
and said — 

"God forgive thee thy blasphemy? Remember Hazael, who 
said, * Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing ? ' 
and went straight and did it, because his evil courses were fixed 
and appointed for him from before the foundation of the world. 
And shall not thy paths be laid out among the godly as it hath 
been foretold to me ? " 

He went away ; and for a minute or two Lois felt as if his 
words must come true, and that, struggle as she would, hate 
her doom as she would, she must become his wife ; and, under 
the circumstances, many a girl would have succumbed to her 
apparent fate. Isolated from all previous connections, hearing 
no word from England, living in the heavy, monotonous routine 
of a family with one man for head, and this man esteemed a 
hero by most of those around him, simply because he was the 
only man in the family — these facts alone would have formed 
strong presumptions that most girls would have yielded to the 
offers of such a one. But, besides this, there was much to tell 
upon the imagination in those days, in that place and time. 
It was prevalently believed that there were manifestations of 



39^ LOIS THE WITCH. 

spiritual influence — of the direct influence both of good and bad 
spirits — constantly to be perceived in the course of men's liveSo 
Lots were drawn, as guidance from the Lord; the Bible was 
opened, and the leaves allowed to fall apart, and the first text 
the eye fell upon was supposed to be appointed from above 
as a direction. Sounds were heard that could not be accounted 
for ; they were made by the evil spirits not yet banished from 
the desert places of which they had so long held possession. 
Sights, inexphcable and mysterious, were dimly seen— Satan, 
in some shape, seeking whom he might devour. And at the 
beginning of the long winter season' such whispered tales, 
such old temptations and hauntings, and devilish terrors, were 
supposed to be pecuharly rife. Salem was, as it were, snowed 
up, and left to prey upon itself. The long, dark evenings, the 
dimly-lighted rooms, the creaking passages, where heterogeneous 
articles were piled away out of the reach of the keen-piercing 
frost, and where occasionally, in the dead of night, a sound 
was heard, as of some heavy falling body, when, next morning, 
everything appeared to be in its right place — so accustomed are 
we to measure noises by comparison with themselves, and not 
with the absolute stillness of the night-season — the white mist, 
coming nearer and nearer to the windows every evening in 
strange shapes, like phantoms — all these, and many other 
circumstances, such as the distant fall of mighty trees in the 
mysterious forests girdling them round, the faint whoop and 
cry of some Indian seeking his camp, and unwittingly nearer 
to the white men's settlement than either he or they would 
have liked could they have chosen, the hungry yells of the wild 
beasts approaching the cattle-pens — these were the things which 
made that winter life in Salem, in the memorable time of 1691-2, 
seem strange, and haunted, and terrific to many: pecuharly 
weird and awful to the English girl in her first year's sojourn in 
America. 

And now imagine Lois worked upon perpetually by Man- 
asseh's conviction that it was decreed that she should be his 
wife, and you will see that she was not without courage and 
spirit to resist as she did, steadily, firmly, and yet sweetly. 
Take one instance out of many, when her nerves were subjected 
to a shock, slight in relation, it is true, but then remember 
that she had been all day, and for many days, shut up within 
doors, in a dull light, that at mid-day was almost dark with 



LOIS THE V/ITCHo 399 

a long-continued snowstorm. Evening was coming on, and 
the wood fire was more cheerful than any of the human beings 
surrounding it ; the monotonous whirr of the smaller spinning- 
wheels had been going on all day, and the store of flax down- 
stairs was nearly exhausted ; when Grace Hickson bade Lois 
fetch down some more from the store-room, before the hght 
so entirely waned away that it could not be found without a 
candle, and a candle it would be dangerous to carry into that 
apartment full of combustible materials, especially at this time 
of hard frost, when every drop of water was locked up and 
bound in icy hardness. So Lois went, half shrinking from 
the long passage that led to the stairs leading up into the 
store-room, for it was in this passage that the strange night- 
sounds were heard, which every one had begun to notice, 
and speak about in lowered tones. She sang, however, as she 
went, "to keep her courage up," — sang, however, in a sub- 
dued voice, the evening hymn she had so often sung in Barford 
church — 

*' Glory to Thee, my God, this night ; " 

and so it was, I suppose, that she never heard the breathing 
or motion of any creature near her till, just as she was loading 
herself with flax to carry down, she heard some one — it was 
Manasseh — say close to her ear— 

"Has the voice spoken yet? Speak, Lois! Has the voice 
spoken yet to thee — that speaketh to me day and night, ' Marry 
Lois ' ? " 

She started and turned a little sick, but spoke almost directly 
in a brave, clear manner — 

" No, Cousin Manasseh ! And it never will." 

"Then I must wait yet longer/' he replied hoarsely, as if to 
himselfo " But all submission — all submission." 

At last a break came upon the monotony of the long, dark 
winter. The parishioners once more raised the discussion 
whether — the parish extending as it did — it was not absolutely 
necessary for Pastor Tappau to have help. This question 
had been mooted once before ; and then Pastor Tappau had 
acquiesced in the necessity, and all had gone on smoothly for 
some months after the appointment of his assistant, until a 
feeling had sprung up on the part of the elder minister, which 
might have been called jealousy of the younger, if so godly a 



40O LOIS THE WITCH. 

man as Pastor Tappau could have been supposed to entertain 
so evil a passion. However that might be, two parties were 
speedily formed, the younger and more ardent being in favour 
of Mr. Nolan, the elder and more persistent — and, at the time, 
the more numerous— clinging to the old grey-headed, dogmatic 
Mr. Tappau, who had married them, baptized their children, 
and was to them literally as a "pillar of the church." So 
Mr. Nolan left Salem, carrying away with him, possibly, more 
hearts than that of Faith Hickson's ; but certainly she had never 
been the same creature since. 

But now — Christmas 1691 — one or two of the older members 
of the congregation being dead, and some who were younger 
men having come to settle in Salem — Mr. Tappau being also 
older, and, some charitably supposed, wiser — a fresh effort had 
been made, and Mr. Nolan was returning to labour in ground 
apparently smoothed over. Lois had taken a keen interest in 
all the proceedings for Faith's sake — far more than the latter 
did for herself, any spectator would have said. Faith's wheel 
never went faster or slower, her thread never broke, her colour 
never came, her eyes were never uplifted with sudden interes'L, 
all the time these discussions respecting Mr. Nolan's return 
were going on. But Lois, after the hint given by Prudence, 
had found a clue to many a sigh and look of despairing sorrow, 
even without the help of Nattee's improvised songs, in which, 
under strange allegories, the helpless love of her favourite was 
told to ears heedless of all meaning, except those of the tender- 
hearted and sympathetic Lois. Occasionally she heard a strange 
chant of the old Indian woman's — half in her own language, 
half in broken English — droned over some simmering pipkin, 
from which the smell was, to say the least, unearthly. Once, 
on perceiving this odour in the keeping-room, Grace Hicksoa 
suddenly exclaimed — 

' ' Nattee is at her heathen ways again ; we shall have some 
mischief unless she is stayed." 

But Faith, moving quicker than ordinary, said something 
about putting a stop to it, and so forestalled her mother's 
evident intention of going into the kitchen. Faith shut the 
door between the two rooms, and entered upon some remon- 
strance with Nattee ; but no one could hear the words used. 
Faith and Nattee seemed more bound together by love and 
common interest than any other two among the self-contained 



LOIS THE WITCH. 40I 

individuals comprising this household. Lois sometimes felt as 
if her presence as a third interrupted some confidential talk 
between her cousin and the old servant. And yet she was 
fond of Faith, and could almost think that Faith liked her 
more than she did either mother, brother, or sister; for the 
first two were indifferent as to any unspoken feelings, while 
Prudence delighted in discovering them only to make an amuse- 
ment to herself out of them. 

One day Lois was sitting by herself at her sewing-table, while 
Faith and Nattee were holding one of their secret conclaves 
from which Lois felt herself to be tacitly excluded, when the 
outer door opened, and a tall, pale young man, in the strict 
professional habit of a minister, entered. Lois sprang up with 
a smile and a look of welcome for Faith's sake, for this must 
be the Mr. Nolan whose name had been on the tongue of every 
one for days, and who was, as Lois knew, expected to arrive 
the day before. 

He seemed half-surprised at the glad alacrity with which 
he was received by this stranger : possibly he had not heard 
of the English girl who was an inmate in the house where 
formerly he had seen only grave, solemn, rigid, or heavy faces, 
and had been received with a stiff form of welcome, very 
different from the blushing, smiling, dimpled looks that inno- 
cently met him with the greeting almost of an old acquaint- 
ance. Lois having placed a chair for him, hastened out to 
call Faith, never doubting but that the feeling which her 
cousin entertained for the young pastor was mutual, although 
it might be unrecognised in its full depth by either. 

"Faith!" said she, bright and breathless. "Guess 

No," checking herself to an assumed unconsciousness of any 
particular importance likely to be affixed to her words, " Mr. 
Nolan, the new pastor, is in the keeping-room. He has 
asked for my aunt and Manasseh. My aunt is gone to the 
prayer-meeting at Pastor Tappau's, and Manasseh is away." 
Lois went on speaking to give Faith time, for the girl had 
become deadly white at the intelligence, while, at the same 
time, her eyes met the keen, cunning eyes of the old Indian 
with a peculiar look of half-wondering awe, while Nattee's 
looks expressed triumphant satisfaction. 

"Go," said Lois, smoothing Faith's hair, and kissing the 
white, cold cheek, "or he will wonder why no one comes to 



402 LOIS THE V/ITCH. 

see him, and perhaps think he is not welcome." Faith went 
without another word into the keeping-room, and sliut the 
door of communication. Nattee and Lois were left together. 
Lois felt as happy as if some piece of good fortune had befallen 
herself. For the time, her growing dread of Manasseh's wild, 
ominous persistence in his suit, her aunt's coldness, her own 
loneliness, were all forgotten, and she could almost have 
danced with joy. Nattee laughed aloud, and talked and 
chuckled to herself — " Old Indian woman great mystery. Old 
Indian woman sent hither and thither ; go where she is told, 
where she hears with her ears. But old Indian woman " — and 
here she drew herself up, and the expression of her face quite 
changed — " know how to call, and then white man must come ; 
and old Indian woman have spoken never a word, and white 
man have hear nothing with his ears." So the old crone 
muttered. 

All this time, things were going on very differently in the 
keeping-room to what Lois imagined. Faith sat stiller even 
than usual ; her eyes downcast, her words few. A quick 
observer might have noticed a certain tremulousness about her 
hands, and an occasional twitching throughout all her frame. 
But Pastor Nolan was not a keen observer upon this occasion ; 
he was absorbed with his own httle wonders and perplexities. 
His wonder was that of a carnal man — who that pretty 
stranger might be, who had seemed, on his first coming, so 
glad to see him, but had vanished instantly, apparently not to 
reappear. And, indeed, I am not sure if his perplexity was 
not that of a carnal man rather than that of a godly minister, 
for this was his dilemma. It was the custom of Salem (as we 
have already seen) for the minister, on entering a household for 
the visit which, among other people and in other times, would 
have been termed a "morning call," to put up a prayer for 
the eternal welfare of the family under whose roof-tree he was. 
Now this prayer was expected to be adapted, to the individual 
character, joys, sorrows, wants, and failings of every member 
present ; and here was he, a young pastor, alone with a young 
woman, and he thought — vain thoughts, perhaps, but still very 
natural — that the implied guesses at her character, involved 
in the minute supplications above described, would be very 
awkward in a tete-a-tete prayer ; so, whether it was his wonder 
or his perplexity, I do not know, but he did not contribute 



LOIS THE WITCH. 403 

much to the conversation for some time, and at last, by a 
sudden burst of courage and impromptu hit, he cut the Gordian 
knot by making the usual proposal for prayer, and adding to 
it a request that the household might be summoned. In 
came Lois, quiet and decorous ; in came Nattee, all one im- 
passive, stiff piece of wood — no look of intelligence or trace of 
gigghng near her countenance. Solemnly recaUing each wander- 
ing thought, Pastor Nolan knelt in the midst of these three to 
pray. He was a good and truly rehgious man, whose name 
here is the only thing disguised, and played his part bravely in 
the awful trial to which he was afterwards subjected ; and if 
at the time, before he went through his fiery persecutions, the 
human fancies whicli beset all young hearts came across his, 
we at this day know that these fancies are no sin. But now he 
prays in earnest, prays so heartily for himself, with such a sense 
of his own spiritual need and spiritual failings, that each one 
of his hearers feels as if a prayer and a supplication had gone 
up for each of them. Even Nattee muttered , the few words 
she knew of the Lord's Prayer ; gibberish though the disjointed 
nouns and verbs might be, the poor creature said them because 
she was stirred to unwonted reverence. As for Lois, she rose 
up comforted and strengthened, as no special prayers of Pastor 
Tappau had ever made her feel. But Faith was sobbing, sobbing 
aloud, almost hysterically, and made no effort to rise, but lay 
on her outstretched arms spread out upon the settle. Lois 
and Pastor Nolan looked at each other for an instant. Then 
Lois said — 

"Sir, you must go. My cousin has not been strong for 
some time, and doubtless she needs more quiet than she has 
had to-day." 

Pastor Nolan bowed, and left the house; but in a moment 
he returned. Half opening the door, but without entering, 
he said — 

" I come back to ask, if perchance I may call this evening to 
inquire how young Mistress Hickson finds herself? " 

But Faith did not hear this ; she was sobbing louder than, 
ever. 

"Why did you send him away, Lois? I should have been 
better directly, and it is so long since I have seen him." 

She had her face hidden as she uttered these words, and 
Lois could not hear them distinctly. She bent her head down 



404 LOIS THE WITCH. 

by her cousin's on the settle, meaning to ask her to repeat 
what she had said. But in the irritation of the moment, and 
prompted possibly by some incipient jealousy. Faith pushed Lois 
away so violently that the latter was hurt against the hard, 
sharp corner of the wooden settle. Tears came into her eyes ; 
not so much because her cheek was bruised, as because of the 
surprised pain she felt at this repulse from the cousin towards 
whom she was feeling so warmly and kindly. Just for the 
moment, Lois was as angry as any child could have been ; but 
some of the words of Pastor Nolan's prayer yet rang in her ears, 
and she thought it would be a shame if she did not let them 
sink into her heart. She dared not, however, stoop again to 
caress Faith, but stood quietly by her, . sorrowfully waiting, 
until a step at the outer door caused Faith to rise quickly, and 
rush into the kitchen, leaving Lois to bear the brunt of the new- 
comer. It was Manasseh, returned from hunting. He had 
been two days away, in company with other young men belong- 
ing to Salem. It was almost the only occupation which could 
draw him out of his secluded habits. He stopped suddenly at 
the door on seeing Lois, and alone, for she had avoided him 
of late in every possible way. 

' ' Where is my mother ? " 

" At a prayer-meeting at Pastor Tappau's. She has taken 
Prudence. Faith has left the room this minute. I will call 
her." And Lois was going towards the kitchen, when he 
placed himself between her and the door. 

"Lois," said he, "the time is going by, and I cannot wait 
much longer. The visions come thick upon me, and my sight 
grows clearer and clearer. Only this last night, camping out 
in the woods, I saw in my soul, between sleeping and waking, 
the spirit come and offer thee two lots, and the colour of 
the one was white, like a bride's, and the other was black and 
red, which is, being interpreted, a violent death. And when 
thou didst choose the latter the spirit said unto me, ' Come ! ' 
and I came, and did as I was bidden. I put it on thee with 
mine own hands, as it is preordained, if thou wilt not hearken 
unto the voice and be my wife. And when the black and red 
dress fell to the ground, thou wert even as a corpse three days 
old. Now, be advised, Lois, in time. Lois, my cousin, I have 
seen it in a vision, and my soul cleaveth unto thee — I would 
fain snare thee." 



LOIS THE WITCH. 405 

He was really in earnest — in passionate earnest ; whatever 
his visions, as he called them, might be, he beheved in them, 
and this belief gave something of unselfishness to his love for 
Lois. This she felt at this moment, if she had never done so 
before, and it seemed like a contrast to the repulse she had 
just met with from his sister. He had drawn near her, and 
now he took hold of her hand, repeating in his wild, pathetic, 
dreamy way — 

"And the voice said unto me, 'Marry Lois!'" And Lois 
was more inclined to soothe and reason with him than she 
had ever been before, since the first time of his speaking to 
her on the subject — when Grace Hickson and Prudence entered 
the room from the passage. They had returned from the prayer- 
meeting by the back way, which had prevented the sound of 
their approach from being heard. 

But Manasseh did not stir or look round ; he kept his eyes 
fixed on Lois, as if to note the effect of his words. Grace came 
hastily forwards, and lifting up her strong right arm, smote 
their joined hands in twain, in spite of the fervour of Manasseh's 
grasp. 

"What means this?" said she, addressing herself more to 
Lois than to her son, anger flashing out of her deep-set eyes. 

Lois waited for Manasseh to speak. He seemed, but a few 
minutes before, to be more gentle and less threatening than 
he had been of late on this subject, and she did not wish to 
irritate him. But he did not speak, and her aunt stood angrily 
waiting for an answer. 

"At any rate," thought Lois, "it will put an end to the 
thought in his mind when my aunt speaks out about it." 

" My cousin seeks me in marriage," said Lois. 

"Thee !" and Grace struck out in the direction of her niece 
with a gesture of supreme contempt. But now Manasseh spoke 
forth— 

"Yea! it is preordained. The voice has said it, and the 
spirit has brought her to me as my bride." 

' ' Spirit ! an evil spirit then. A good spirit would have chosen 
out for thee a godly maiden of thine own people, and not a 
prelatist and a stranger like this girl. A pretty return. Mistress 
Lois, for all our kindness." 

" Indeed, Aunt Hickson, I have done all I could — Cousin 
Manasseh knows it — to show him I can be none of his. I have 



400 LOIS THE WITCH. 

told him," said she, blushing, but determined to say the whole 
out at once, "that I am all but troth-plight to a young man 
of our own village at home ; and even putting all that on one 
side, I wish not for marriage at present." 

" Wish rather for conversion and regeneration. Alarriage is 
an unseemly word in the mouth of a maiden. As for Manasseh, 
I will take reason with him in private ; and, meanwhile, if thou 
hast spoken truly, throw not thyself in his path, as I have 
noticed thou hast done but too often of late." 

Lois's heart burnt within her at this unjust accusation, for 
she knew how much she had dreaded and avoided her cousin, 
and she almost looked to him to give evidence that her aunt's 
last words were not true. But, instead, he recurred to his one 
fixed idea, and said — 

"Mother, listen! If I wed not Lois, both she and I die 
within the year. I care not for life ; before this, as you know, 
I have sought for death " (Grace shuddered, and was for a 
moment subdued by some recollection of past horror); "but 
if Lois were my wife I should live, and she would be spared 
from what is the other lot. That whole vision grows clearer 
to me day by day. Yet, when I try to know whether I am one 
of the elect, all is dark. The mystery of Free-Will and Forc- 
PCnowledge is a mystery of Satan's devising, not of God's." 

"Alas, my son ! Satan is abroad among the brethren even 
now ; but let the old vexed topics rest. Sooner than fret thy- 
self again, thou shalt have Lois to be thy wife, though my 
heart was set far differently for thee." 

" No, Manasseh," said Lois. " I love you well as a cousin, 
but wife of yours I can never be. Aunt Hickson, it is not well 
to delude him so. I say, if ever I marry man, I am troth-plight 
to one in England." 

"Tush, child! I am your guardian in my dead husband's 
place. Thou thinkest thyself so great a prize that I could clutch 
at thee whether or no, I doubt not. I value thee not, save as a 
medicine for Manasseh, if his mind get disturbed again, as I 
have noted signs of late." 

This, then, was the secret explanation of much that had 
alarmed her in her cousin's manner : and if Lois had been a 
physician of modern times, she might have traced somewhat of 
the same temperament in his sisters as well — in Prudence's lack 
of natural feehng and impish delight in mischief, in Faith's 



LOIS THE WITCH. 407 

vehemence of unrequited love. But as yet Lois did not know, 
any more than Faith, that the attachment of the latter to Mr. 
Nolan was not merely unreturned, but even unperceived, by the 
young minister. 

He came, it is true — came often to the house, sat long with 
the family, and watched them narrowly, but took no especial 
notice of Faith. Lois perceived this, and grieved over it ; 
Nattee perceived it, and was indignant at it, long before Faith 
slowly acknowledged it to herself, and went to Nattee the 
Indian woman, rather than to Lois her cousin, for sympathy 
and counsel. 

"He cares not for me," said Faith. "He cares more for 
Lois's little finger than for my whole body," the girl moaned out 
in the bitter pain of jealousy. 

"Hush thee, hush thee, prairie bird! How can he build 
a nest, when the old bird has got all the moss and the 
feathers? Wait till the Indian has found means to send the 
old bird flying far away." This was the mysterious comfort 
Nattee gave. 

Grace Hickson took some kind of charge over Manasseh that 
relieved Lois of much of her distress at his strange behaviour. 
Yet at times he escaped from his mother's watchfulness, and in 
such opportunities he would always seek Lois, entreating her, 
as of old, to marry him — sometimes pleading his -love for her, 
oftener speaking wildly of his visions and the voices which he 
heard foretelling a terrible futurity. 

We have now to do with events which were taking place in 
Salem, beyond the narrow circle of the Hickson family ; but 
as they only concern us in as far as they bore down in 
their consequences on the future of those who formed part of it, 
I shall go over the narrative very briefly. The town of Salem 
had lost by death, within a very short time preceding the 
commencement of my story, nearly all its venerable men and 
leading citizens — men of ripe wisdom and sound counsel. The 
people had hardly yet recovered from the shock of their loss, 
as one by one the patriarchs of the primitive little community 
had rapidly followed each other to the grave. They had 
been beloved as fathers, and looked up to as judges in the land. 
The first bad effect of their loss was seen in the heated 
dissension which sprang up between Pastor Tappau and the 
candidate Nolan. It had been apparently healed over ; but 



4o8 LOIS THE WITCH. 

Mr. Nolan had not been many weeks in Salem, after his 
second coming, before the strife broke out afresh, and alienated 
many for life who had till then been bound together by the 
ties of friendship or relationship. Even in the Hickson family 
isomething of this feeling soon sprang up ; Grace being a 
vehement partisan of the elder pastor's more gloomy doctrines, 
while Faith was a passionate, if a powerless, advocate of 
Mr. Nolan. Manasseh's growing absorption in his own 
fancies, and imagined gift of prophecy, making him com- 
paratively indifferent to all outward events, did not tend to 
either the fulfilment of his 'visions, or the elucidation of 
the dark mysterious doctrines over which he had pondered 
too long for the health either of his mind or body ; while 
Prudence delighted in irritating every one by her advocacy 
of the views of thinking to which they were most opposed, 
and relating every gossiping story to the person most likely 
to disbelieve, and be indignant at what she told, with an 
assumed unconsciousness of any such effect to be produced. 
There was much talk of the congregational difficulties and 
dissensions being carried up to the general court, and eaeh 
party naturally hoped that, if such were the course of events, 
the opposing pastor and that portion of the congregation which 
adhered to him might be worsted in the struggle. 

Such was the state of things in the township when, one day 
towards the end of the month of February, Grace Hickson 
returned from the weekly prayer- meeting, which it was her 
custom to attend at Pastor Tappau's house, in a state of extreme 
excitement. On her entrance into her own house she sat down, 
rocking her body backwards and forwards, and praying to her- 
self. Both Faith and Lois stopped their spinning, in wonder at 
her agitation, before either of them ventured to address her. 
At length Faith rose, and spoke — 

"Mother, what is it? Hath anything happened of any evil 
nature?" 

The brave, stern old woman's face was blenched, and her 
eyes were almost set in horror, as she prayed ; the great drops 
running down her cheeks. 

It seemed almost as if she had to make a struggle to recover 
her sense of the present homely accustomed life, before she 
could find words to answer — 

" Evil nature ! Daughters, Satan is abroad — is close to us. 



LOIS THE WITCH. 409 

I have this very hour seen him afflict two innocent children, as 
of old he troubled those who were possessed by him in Judea. 
Hester and Abigail Tappau have been contorted and convulsed 
by him and his servants into such shapes as I am afeared to 
think on ; and when their father, godly Mr. Tappau, began 
to exhort and to pray, their bowlings were like the wild beasts 
of the field. Satan is of a truth let loose among us. The girls 
kept calling upon him as if he were even then present among 
us. Abigail screeched out that he stood at my very back in 
the guise of a black man ; and truly, as I turned round at her 
words, I saw a creature like a shadow vanishing, and turned all 
of a cold sweat. Who knows where he is now? Faith, lay 
straws across on the door-sill." 

"But if he be already entered in," asked Prudence, "may 
not that make it difficult for him to depart?" 

Her mother, taking no notice of her question, went on 
rocking herself, and praying, till -again she broke out into 
narration — 

' ' Reverend Mr. Tappau says, that only last night he heard a 
sound as of a heavy body dragged all through the house by 
some strong power ; once it was thrown against his bedroom 
door, and would, doubtless, have broken it in, if he had not 
prayed fervently and aloud at that very time ; and a shriek 
went up at his prayer that made his hair stand on end ; and 
this morning all the crockery in the house was found broken 
and piled up in the middle of the kitchen floor ; and Pastor 
Tappau says, that as soon as he began to ask a blessing on 
the morning's meal, Abigail and Hester cried out, as if some 
one was pinching them. Lord, have mercy upon us all 1 
Satan is of a truth let loose." 

" They sound like the old stories I used to hear in Barford," 
said Lois, breathless with affright. 

Faith seemed less alarmed ; but then her dislike to Pastor 
Tappau was so great, that she could hardly sympathise with 
any misfortunes that befell him or his family. 

Towards evening Mr. Nolan came in. In general, so high 
did party spirit run, Grace Hickson only tolerated his visits, 
finding herself often engaged at such hours, and being too 
much abstracted in thought to show him the ready hospitaUty 
which was one of her most prominent virtues. But to-day, 
both as bringing the latest intelligence of the new horrors 



4IO LOIS THE WITCH. 

sprung up in Salem, and as being one of the Church militant 
(or what the Puritans considered as equivalent to the Church 
militant) against Satan, he was welcomed by her in an unusual 
manner. 

He seemed oppressed with the occurrences of the day : at first 
it appeared to be almost a relief to him to sit still, and cogitate 
upon them, and his hosts were becoming almost impatient for 
him to say something more than mere monosyllables, when he 
began — 

"Such a day as this, I pray that I may never see again. It 
is as if the devils whom our Lord banished into the herd of 
swine, had been permitted to come again upon the earth. 
And I would it were only the lost spirits who were tormenting 
us; but I much fear that certain of those whom we have 
esteemed as God's people have sold their souls to Satan, for 
the sake of a little of his evil power, whereby they may afflict 
others for a time. Elder Sherringhan hath lost this very day 
a good and valuable horse, wherewith he used to drive his 
family to meeting, his wife being bedridden." 

"Perchance,' said Lois, "the horse died of some natural 
disease." 

"True," said Pastor Nolan; "but I was going on to say, 
that as he entered into his house, full of dolour at the loss of 
his beast, a mouse ran in before him so sudden that it almost 
tripped him up, though an instant before there was no such 
thing to be seen ; and he caught at it with his shoe and hit it, 
and it cried out like a human creature in pain, and straight 
ran up the chimney, caring nothing for the hot flame and 
smoke." 

Manasseh listened greedily to all this story, and when it was 
ended he smote his breast, and prayed aloud for deliverance 
from the power of the Evil One ; and he continually went on 
praying at intervals through the evening, with every mark of 
abject terror on. his face and in his manner — he, the bravest; 
most daring hunter in all the settlement. Indeed, all the family 
huddled together in silent fear, scarcely finding any interest in 
the usual household occupations. Faith and Lois sat with 
arms entwined, as in days before the former had become 
jealous of the latter ; Prudence asked low, fearful questions 
of her mother and of the pastor as to the creatures that were 
abroad, and the ways in which they afflicted others ; and 



LOIS THE WITCH. 41I 

when Grace besought the minister to pray for her and her 
household, he made a long and passionate supplication that 
none of that little flock might ever so far fall away into hope- 
less perdition as to be guilty of the sin without forgiveness — • 
the Sin of Witchcraft. 



CHAPTER III. 

"The Sin of Witchcraft." We read about it, we look on it 
from the outside ; but we can hardly realise the terror it in- 
duced. Every impulsive or unaccustomed action, every little 
nervous affection, every ache or pain was noticed, not merely 
by those around the sufferer, but by the person himself, who- 
ever he might be, that was acting or being acted upon, in any 
but the most simple and ordinary manner. He or she (for it 
was most frequently a woman or girl that was the supposed 
subject) felt a desire for some unusual kind of food — some un- 
usual motion or rest — her hand twitched, her foot was asleep, or 
her leg had the cramp ; and the dreadful question immediately 
suggested itself, "Is any one possessing an evil power over 
me, by the help of Satan?" and perhaps they went on to 
think, "It is bad enough to feel that my body can be made 
to suffer through the power of some unknown evil-wisher to 
me, but what if Satan gives them still further power, and they 
can touch my soul, and inspire me with loathful thoughts 
leading me into crimes which at present I abhor?" and so on, 
till the very dread of what might happen, and the constant 
dwelHng of the thoughts, even with horror, upon certain 
possibilities, or what were esteemed such, really brought about 
the corruption of imagination at least, which at first they had 
shuddered at. Moreover, there was a sort of uncertainty as 
to who might be infected — not unlike the overpowering dread 
of the plague, which made some shrink from their best-beloved 
with irrepressible fear. The brother or sister, who was the 
dearest friend of their childhood and youth, might now be 
bound in some mysterious deadly pact with evil spirits of the 
most horrible kind — who could tell? And in such a case it 
became a duty, a sacred duty, to give up the earthly body 



412 ' LOIS THE WITCH. 

which had been once so loved, but which was now the habita- 
tion of a soul corrupt and horrible in its evil inclinations. 
Possibly, terror of death might bring on confession, and 
repentance, and purification. Or if it did not, why, away 
with the evil creature, the witch, out of the world, down to 
the kingdom of the master, whose bidding was done on earth 
in all manner of corruption and torture of God's creatures ! 
There were others who, to these more simple, if more ignorant, 
feelings of horror at witches and witchcraft, added the desire, 
conscious or unconscious, of revenge on those whose conduct 
had been in any way displeasing to them. Where evidence 
takes a supernatural character, there is no disproving it. 
This argument comes up: "You have only the natural 
powers ; I have supernatural. You admit the existence of 
the supernatural by the condemnation of this very crime 
of witchcraft. You hardly know the limits of the natural 
powers ; how, then, can you define the supernatural? I 
say that in the dead of night, when my body seemed to 
all present to be lying in quiet sleep, I was, in the most 
complete and wakeful consciousness, present in my body 
at an assembly of witches and wizards with Satan at- their 
head ; that I was by them tortured in my body, because 
my soul would not acknowledge him as its king ; and that 
I witnessed such and such deeds. What the nature of the 
appearance was that took the semblance of myself, sleeping 
quietly in my bed, I know not ; but admitting, as you do, 
the possibility of witchcraft, you cannot disprove my evidence." 
The evidence might be given truly or falsely, as the person 
witnessing believed it or not ; but every one must see what 
immense and terrible power was abroad for revenge. Then, 
again, the accused themselves ministered to the horrible panic 
abroad. Some, in dread of death, confessed from cowardice 
to the imaginary crimes of which they were accused, and of 
which they were promised a pardon on confession. Some, 
weak and terrified, came honestly to believe in their own 
guilt, through the diseases of imagination which were sure to 
be engendered at such a time as this. 

Lois sat spinning with Faith. Both were silent, pondering 
over the stories that were abroad. Lois spoke first. 

' ' O Faith ! this country is worse than ever England was, 
even in the days of Master Matthew Hopkinson, the witch- 



LOIS THE WITCH. 413 

finder. I grow frightened of every one, I think. I even get 
afeared sometimes of Nattee ! " 

Faith coloured a little. Then she asked — 

"Why? What should make you distrust the Indian 
woman?" 

" Oh ! I am ashamed of my fear as soon as it arises in my 
mind. But, you know, her look and colour were strange to 
me when first I came ; and she is not a christened woman ; 
and they tell stories of Indian wizards ; and I know not what 
the mixtures are which she is sometimes stirring over the fire, 
nor the meaning of the strange chants she sings to herself. 
And once I met her in the dusk, just close by Pastor 
Tappau's house, in company with Hota, his servant — it was 
just before we heard, of the sore disturbance in his house — 
and I have wondered if she had aught to do with it." 

Faith sat very still, as if thinking. At last she said — • 

"If Nattee has powers beyond what you and I have, she 
will not use them for evil ; at least not evil to those whom 
she loves." 

"That comforts me but little," said Lois. "If she has 
powers beyond what she ought to have, I dread her, though 
I have done her no evil ; nay, though I could almost say 
she bore me a kindly feeling. But such powers are only 
given by the Evil One ; and the proof thereof is, that, as 
you imply, Nattee would use them on those who offend 
her." 

"And why should she not?" asked Faith, lifting her eyes, 
and flashing heavy fire out of them, at the question. 

"Because," said Lois, not seeing Faith's glance, "we 
are told to pray for them that despitefully use us, and to do 
good to them that persecute us. But poor Nattee is not a 
christened woman. I would that Mr. Nolan would baptize 
her : it would, maybe, take her out of the power of Satan's 
temptations." 

"Are you never tempted?" asked Faith half-scornfully ; 
"and yet I doubt not you were well baptized ! " 

"True," said Lois sadly; "I often do very wrong, but, 
perhaps, I might have done worse, if the holy form had not 
been observed." 

They were again silent for a time. 

"Lois," said Faith, "I did not mean any offence. But 



414 LOIS THE WITCH. 

do yoti never feel as if you would give up all that future 
life, of which the parsons talk, and which seems so vague 
and so distant, for a few years of real, vivid blessedness to 
begin to-morrow — this hour — this minute? Oh! I could 
think of happiness for which I would willingly give up all 
those misty chances of heaven " 

"Faith, Faith!" cried Lois in terror, holding her hand 
before her cousin's mouth, and looking around in fright. 
"Hush! you know not who may be listening; you are 
putting yourself in his power." 

But Faith pushed her hand away, and said, "Lois, I 
believe in him no more than I believe in heaven. Both may 
exist, but they are so far away that I defy them. Why all 
this ado about Mr, Tappau's house — promise me never to 
tell living creature, and I will tell you a secret." 

"No!" said Lois, terrified. "I dread all secrets. I 
will hear none. I will do all that I can for you. Cousin 
Faith, in any way; but just at this time, I strive to keep 
my life and thoughts within the strictest bounds of godly 
simplicity, and I dread pledging myself to aught that is 
hidden and secret." 

"As you will, cowardly girl, full of terrors, which, if you 
had listened to me, might have been lessened, if not entirely 
done away with." And Faith would not utter another word, 
though Lois tried meekly to entice her into conversation on 
some other subject. 

The rumour of witchcraft was like the echo of thunder among 
the hills. It had broken out in Mr. Tappau's house, and 
his two little daughters were the first supposed to be bewitched ; 
but round about, from every quarter of the town, came in 
accounts of sufferers by witchcraft. There was hardly a family 
without one of these supposed victims. Then arose a growl 
and menaces of vengeance from many a household, menaces 
deepened, not daunted, by the terror and mystery of the suffer- 
ing that gave rise to them. 

At length a day was appointed when, after solemn fasting 
and prayer, Mr. Tappau invited the neighbouring ministers 
and all godly people to assemble at his house, and unite with 
him in devoting a day to solemn religious services, and to 
supplication for the deliverance of his children, and those 
•similarly afflicted, from the power of the Evil One. All Salem 



LOIS THE witch; 415 

poured out towards the house of the minister. There was a 
look of excitement on all their faces ; eagerness and horror 
were depicted on many, while stern resolution, amounting to 
determined cruelty, if the occasion arose, was seen on others. 

In the midst of the prayer, Hester Tappau, the younger girl, 
fell into convulsions ; fit after fit came on, and her screams 
mingled with the shrieks and cries of the assembled congrega- 
tion. In the first pause, when the child was partially recovered, 
when the people stood around exhausted and breathless, her 
father, the Pastor Tappau, hfted his right hand, and adjured 
her, in the name of the Trinity, to say who tormented her. 
There was a dead silence ; not a creature stirred of all those 
hundreds. Hester turned wearily and uneasily, and moaned 
out the name of Hota, her father's Indian servant. Hota 
was present, apparently as much interested as any one ; indeed, 
she had been busying herself much in bringing remedies to 
the suffering child. But now she stood aghast, transfixed, 
while her name was caught up and shouted out in tones of 
reprobation and hatred by all the crowd around her. Another 
moment, and they would have fallen upon the trembling 
creature and torn her limb from limb ; pale, dusky, shivering 
Hota, half guilty-looking from her very bewilderment. But 
Pastor Tappau, that gaunt, grey man, lifting himself to his 
utmost height, signed to them to go back, to keep still while 
he addressed them ; and then he told them that instant 
vengeance was not just, dehberate punishment ; that there 
would be need of conviction, perchance of confession ; he 
hoped for some redress for his suffering children from her 
revelations, if she were brought to confession. They must 
leave the culprit in his hands, and in those of his brother 
ministers, that they might wrestle with Satan before delivering 
her up to the civil power. He spoke well, for he spoke from 
the heart of a father seeing his children exposed to dreadful 
and mysterious suffering, and firmly believing that he now 
held the clue in his hand which should ultimately release 
them and their fellow-sufferers. And the congregation moaned 
themselves into unsatisfied submission, and hstened to his long, 
passionate prayer, which he uplifted even while the hapless 
Hota stood there, guarded and bound by two men, who glared 
at her like bloodhounds ready to slip, even while the prayer 
ended in the words of the merciful Saviour, 



4l6 LOIS THE WITCH. 

Lois sickened and shuddered at the whole scene ; and this 
was no intellectual shuddering at the folly and superstition 
of the people, but tender moral shuddering at the sight of 
guilt which she believed in, and at the evidence of men's hatred 
and abhorrence, which, when shown even to the guilty, 
troubled and distressed her merciful heart. She followed her 
aunt and cousins out into the open air with downcast eyes 
and pale face. Grace Hickson was going home with a feeling 
of triumphant relief at the detection of the guilty one. Faith 
alone seemed uneasy and disturbed beyond her wont, for 
Manasseh received the whole transaction as the fulfilment of 
a prophecy, and Prudence was excited by the novel scene into 
a state of discordant high spirits. 

" I am quite as old as Hester Tappau," said she ; " her birth- 
day is in September and mine in October." 

" What has that to do with it?" said Faith sharply. 

"Nothing, only she seemed such a little thing for all those 
grave ministers to be praying for, and so many folk come from 
a distance, some from Boston, they said, all for her sake, as 
it were. Why, didst thou see, it was godly Mr. Henwick 
that held her head when she wriggled so, and old Madam 
Holbrook had herself helped up on a chair to see the better. 
I wonder how long I might wriggle before great and godly 
folk would take so much notice of me? But, I suppose, that 
comes of being a pastor's daughter. She'll be so set up there'll 
be no speaking to her now. Faith ! thinkest thou that Hota 
really had bewitched her? She gave me corn-cakes the last 
time I was at Pastor Tappau's, just hke any other woman, only, 
perchance, a trifle more good-natured ; and to think of her 
being a witch after all ! " 

But Faith seemed in a hurry to reach home, and paid no 
attention to Prudence's talking. Lois hastened on with Faith, 
for Manasseh was walking alongside of his mother, and she 
kept steady to her plan of avoiding him, even though she 
pressed her company upon Faith, who had seemed of late 
desirous of avoiding her. 

That evening the news spread through Salem, that Hota 
had confessed her sin — had acknowledged that she was a 
witch. Nattee was the first to hear the intelligence. She 
broke into the room .where the girls were sitting with Grace 
Hickson, solemnly doing nothing, because of the great prayer- 



LOIS THE WITCH. 417 

meeting in the morning, and cried out, "Mercy, mercy, 
mistress, everybody ! take care of poor Indian Nattee, who 
never do wrong, but for mistress and the family ! Hota one 
bad wicked witch, she say so herself; oh, me! oh, me!" 
and stooping over Faith, she said something in a low, miser- 
able tone of voice, of which Lois only heard the word " torture." 
But Faith heard all, and turning very pale, half-accompanied, 
half-led Nattee back to her kitchen. 

Presently, Grace Hickson came in. She had been out to see 
a neighbour : it will not do to say that so godly a woman had 
been gossiping ; and, indeed, the subject of the conversation 
she had held was of too serious and momentous a nature for 
me to employ a light word to designate it. There was all 
the listening to and repeating of small details and rumours, 
in which the speakers have no concern, that constitutes gossip- 
ing ; but in this instance, all trivial facts and speeches might 
be considered to bear such dreadful significance, and might 
have so ghastly an ending, that such whispers were occasionally 
raised to a tragic importance. Every fragment of intelligence 
that related to Mr. Tappau's household was eagerly snatched 
at ; how his dog howled all one long night through, and could 
not be stilled ; how his cow suddenly failed in her milk only 
two months after she had calved ; how his memory had for- 
saken him one morning, for a minute or two, in repeating the 
Lord's Prayer, and he had even omitted a clause thereof in 
his sudden perturbation ; and how all these forerunners of his 
children's strange illness might now be interpreted and under- 
stood — this had formed the staple of the conversation between 
Grace Hickson and her friends. There had arisen a dispute 
among them at last, as to how far these subjections to the 
power of the Evil One were to be considered as a judgment 
upon Pastor Tappau for some sin on his part ; and if so, 
what? It was not an unpleasant discussion, although there 
was considerable difference of opinion ; for as none of the 
speakers had had their families so troubled, it was rather a 
proof that they had none of them committed any sin. In the 
midst of this talk, one, entering in from the street, brought 
the news that Hota had confessed all — had owned to signing 
a certain little red book which Satan had presented to her— 
had been present at impious sacraments — had ridden through 
the air to Newbury Falls— and, in fact, had assented to all 

o 



4l8 LOIS THE VvITCH. 

the questions which the eiders and magistrates, carefully read- 
ing over the confessions of the witches who had formerly been 
tried in England, in order that they might not omit a single 
inquiry, had asked of her. More she had owned to, but things 
of inferior importance, and partaking more of the nature of 
earthly tricks than of spiritual power. She had spoken of 
carefully adjusted strings, by which all the crockery in Pastor 
Tappau's house could be pulled down or disturbed ; but of such 
intelligible malpractices the gossips of Salem took little heed. 
One of them said that such an action showed Satan's prompt- 
ing, but they all preferred to listen to the grander guilt of 
the blasphemous sacraments and supernatural rides. The 
narrator ended with saying that Hota was to be hung the 
next morning, in spite of her confession, even although her 
life had been promised to her if she acknowledged her sin ; 
for it was well to make an example of the first-discovered witch, 
and it was also well that she was an Indian, a heathen, whose 
life would be no great loss to the community. Grace Hickson 
on this spoke out. It was well that witches should perish off 
the face of the earth, Indian or English, heathen or, worse, a 
baptized Christian who had betrayed the Lord, even as Judas 
did, and had gone over to Satan. For her part, she wished 
that the first-discovered witch had been a member of a godly 
English household, that it might be seen of all men that 
religious folk were willing to cut off the right hand, and pluck 
out the right eye, if tainted with this devilish sin. She spoke 
sternly and well. The last comer said that her words might 
be brought to the proof, for it had been whispered that Hota 
had named others, and some from the most religious famihes 
of Salem, whom she had seen among the unholy communi- 
cants at the sacraments of the Evil One. And Grace replied 
that she would answer for it, all godly folk would stand the 
proof, and quench all natural affection rather than that such a 
sin should grow and spread among them. She herself had a 
weak bodily dread of witnessing the violent death even of an 
animal; but she would not let that deter her from standing 
amidst those who cast the accursed creature out from among 
them on the morrow morning. 

Contrary to her wont, Grace Hickson told her family much 
of this conversation. It was a sign of her excitement on the 
subject that she thus spoke, and the excitement spread in 



LOIS THE WITCH. 419 

different forms through her family. Faith was flushed and 
restless, wandering between the keeping-room and the kitchen, 
and questioning her mother particularly as to the more extra- 
ordinary parts of Hota's confession, as if she wished to satisfy 
herself that the Indian witch had really done those horrible and 
mysterious deeds. 

Lois shivered and trembled with affright at the narration, 
and the idea that such things were possible. Occasionally she 
found herself wandering off into sympathetic thought for the 
woman who was to die, abhorred of all men, and unpardoned 
by God, to whom she had been so fearful a traitor, and who 
was now, at this very time — when Lois sat among her kindred 
by the warm and cheerful firelight, anticipating many peaceful, 
perchance happy, morrows — solitary, shivering, panic-stricken, 
guilty, with none to stand by her and exhort her, shut up in 
darkness between the cold walls of the town prison. But Lois 
almost shrank from sympathising with so loathsome an accom- 
plice of Satan, ana prayed for forgiveness for her charitable 
thought ; and yet, again, she remembered the tender spirit of 
the Saviour, and allowed herself to fall into pity, till at last her 
sense of right and wrong became so bewildered that she could 
only leave all to God's disposal, and just ask that He would 
take all creatures and all events into His hands. 

Prudence was as bright as if she were listening to some 
merry story — curious as to more than her mother would tell 
her — seeming to have no particular terror of witches or witch- 
craft, and yet to be especially desirous to accompany her mother 
the next morning to the hanging. Lois shrank from the cruel, 
eager face of the young girl as she begged her mother to allow 
her to go. Even Grace was disturbed and perplexed by her 
daughter's pertinacity. 

" No," said she. " Ask me no more. Thou shalt not go. 
Such sights are not for the young. I go, and I sicken at the 
thoughts of it. But I go to show that I, a Christian woman, 
take God's part against the devil's. Thou shalt not go, I tell 
thee. I could whip thee for thinking of it." 

" Manasseh says Hota was well whipped by Pastor Tappau 
ere she was brought to confession," said Prudence, as if 
anxious to change the subject of discussion. 

Manasseh lifted up his head from the great folio Bible, 
brought by his father from England, which he was studying. 



420 LOIS THE WITCH. 

He had not heard what Prudence said, but he looked up at 
the sound of his name. All present were startled at his wild 
eyes, his bloodless face. But he was evidently annoyed at the 
expression of their countenances. 

" Why look ye at me in that manner? " asked he. And his 
manner was anxious and agitated. His mother made haste to 
speak — 

" It was but that Prudence said something that thou hast 
told her — that Pastor Tappau defiled his hands by whipping 
the witch Hota. What evil thought has got hold of thee? 
Talk to us, and crack not thy skull against the learning of 
man." 

"It is not the learning of man that I study : it is the Word 
of God. I would fain know more of the nature of this sin o{ 
witchcraft, and whether it be, indeed, the unpardonable sin 
Against the Holy Ghost. At times I feel a creeping influence 
coming over me, prompting all evil thoughts and unheard-of 
deeds, and I question within myself, ' Is not this the power of 
witchcraft ? ' and I sicken, and loathe all that I do or say ; 
and yet some evil creature hath the mastery over me, and I 
must needs do and say what I loathe and dread. Why 
wonder you, mother, that I, of all men, strive to learn the 
exact nature of witchcraft, and for that end study the Word 
of God? Have you not seen me when I was, as it were, 
possessed with a devil ? " 

He spoke calmly, sadly, but as under deep conviction. His 
mother rose to comfort him. 

" My son," she said, " no one ever saw thee do deeds, or 
heard thee utter words, which any one could say were prompted 
by devils. We have seen thee, poor lad, with thy wits gone 
astray for a time, but all thy thoughts sought rather God's 
will in forbidden places, than lost the clue to them for one 
moment in hankering after the powers of darkness. Those 
days are long past ; a future lies before thee. Think not of 
witches, or of being subject to the power of witchcraft. I did 
evil to speak of it before thee. Let Lois come and sit by thee, 
and talk to thee." 

Lois went to her cousin, grieved at heart for his depressed 
state of mind, anxious to soothe and comfort him, and yet 
recoiling more than ever from the idea of ultimately becoming 
his wife — an idea to which she saw her aunt reconciling herself 



LOIS THE WITCH. 421 

unconsciously day by day, as she perceived the Enghsh girl's 
' power of soothing and comforting her cousin, even by the very 
tones of her sweet cooing voice. 

He took Lois's hand. 

" Let me hold it. It does me good," said he. " Ah, Lois, 
when I am by you I forget all my troubles — will the day never 
come when you will listen to the voice that speaks to me 
continually?" 

" I never hear it, Cousin Manasseh," she said softly ; 
"but do not think of the voices. Tell me of the land you 
hope to enclose from the forest — what manner of trees grow 
on it?" 

Thus, by simple questions on practical affairs, she led him 
back, in her unconscious wisdom, to the subjects on which he 
had always shown strong practical sense. He talked on these 
with all due discretion till the hour for family prayer came 
round, which was early in those days. It was Manasseh 's 
place to conduct it, as head of the family ; a post which his 
mother had always been anxious to assign to him since her 
husband's death. He prayed extempore, and to-night his 
supplications wandered off into wild, unconnected fragments of 
prayer, which all those kneeling around began, each according 
to her anxiety for the speaker, to think would never end. 
Minutes elapsed, and grew to quarters of an hour, and his 
words only became more emphatic and wilder, praying for 
himself alone, and laying bare the recesses of his heart. At 
length his mother rose, and took Lois by the hand, for she had 
faith in Lois's power over her son, as being akin to that which 
the shepherd David, playing on his harp, had over king Saul 
sitting on his throne. She drew her towards him, where he knelt 
facing into the circle, with his eyes upturned, and the tranced 
agony of his face depicting the struggle of the troubled soul 
within, 

"Here is Lois," said Grace, almost tenderly; "she would 
fain go to her chamber." (Down the girl's face the tears were 
streaming.) " Rise, and finish thy prayer in thy closet." 

But at Lois's approach he sprang to his feet — sprang aside. 

' ' Take her away, mother ! Lead me not into temptation. 
She brings me evil and sinful thoughts. She overshadows me, 
even in the presence of my God. She is no angel of light, or 
she would not do this. She troubles me with the sound of 



422 LOIS THE Y/ITCH. 

a voice bidding me marry her, even when I am at my prayers. ^ 
Avaunt ! Take her away ! " 

He would have struck at Lois if she had not shrunk back, 
dismayed and affrighted. His mother, although equally dis- 
mayed, was not affrighted. She had seen him thus before, and 
understood the management of his paroxysm. 

" Go, Lois ! the sight of thee irritates him, as once that of 
Faith did. Leave him to me." 

And Lois rushed away to her room, and threw herself on her 
bed, like a panting, hunted creature. Faith came after her 
slowly and heavily. 

"Lois," said she, "wilt thou do me a favour? It is not 
much to ask. Wilt thou arise before daylight, and bear this 
letter from me to Pastor Nolan's lodgings ? I would have done 
it myself, but mother has bidden me to come to her, and I may 
be detained until the time when Hota is to be hung, and the 
letter tells of matters pertaining to life and death. Seek out 
Pastor Nolan wherever he may be, and have speech of him after 
he has read the letter." 

" Cannot Nattee take it?" asked Lois. 

" No ! " Faith answered fiercely. " Why should she?" 

But Lois did not reply. A quick suspicion darted through 
Faith's mind, sudden as lightning. It had never entered there 
before. 

' ' Speak, Lois. I read thy thoughts. Thou would'st fain not 
be the bearer of this letter ? " 

"I will take it," said Lois meekly. "It concerns life and 
death, you say?" 

" Yes ! " said Faith, in quite a different tone of voice. But, 
after a pause of thought, she added: "Then, as soon as the 
house is still, I will write what I have to say, and leave it here 
on this chest ; and thou wilt promise me to take it before the 
day is fully up, while there is yet time for action." 

"Yes; I promise," said Lois. And Faith knew enough 
of her to feel sure that the deed would be done, however 
reluctantly. 

The letter was written — laid on the chest ; and ere day 
dawned, Lois was astir. Faith watching her from between her 
half-closed eyelids — eyelids that had never been fully closed in 
sleep the livelong night. The instant Lois, cloaked and hooded, 
left the room. Faith sprang up, and prepared to go to her 



LOIS THE WITCH. 423 , 

mother, whom she heard already stirring. Nearly every one 
in Salem was awake and up on this awful morning, though few 
were out of doors, as Lois passed along the streets. Here was 
the hastily-erected gallows, the black shadow of which fell 
across the street with ghastly significance ; now she had ta 
pass the iron-barred gaol, through the unglazed windows of 
which she heard the fearful cry of a woman, and the sound 
of many footsteps. On she sped, sick almost to faintness, to 
the widow woman's where Mr. Nolan lodged. He was already 
up and abroad, gone, his hostess believed, to the gaol. Thither 
Lois, repeating the words " for life and for death ! " was forced 
to go. Retracing her steps, she was thankful to see him come 
out of those dismal portals, rendered more dismal for being 
in heavy shadow, just as she approached. What his errand 
had been she knew not ; but he looked grave and sad, as she 
put Faith's letter into his hands, and stood before him quietly 
waiting until he should read it, and deliver the expected answer. 
But, instead of opening it, he hid it in his hand, apparently 
absorbed in thought. At last he spoke aloud, but more to 
himself than to her — 

"My God! and is she, then, to die in this fearful delirium? 
It must be — can be — only delirium, that prompts such wild 
and horrible confessions. Mistress Barclay, I come from the 
presence of the Indian woman appointed to die. It seems, she 
considered herself betrayed last evening by her sentence not 
being respited, even after she had made confession of sin , 
enough to bring down fire from heaven ; and, it seems to me, 
the passionate, impotent anger of this helpless creature has 
turned to madness, for she appals me by the additional revela- 
tions she has made to the keepers during the night — to me this 
morning. I could almost fancy that she thinks by deepening 
the guilt she confesses, to escape this last dread punishment 
of all, as if, were a tithe of what she says true, one could suffer 
such a sinner to live. Yet to send her to death in such a state 
of mad terror ! What is to be done ? " 

" Yet Scripture says that we are not to suffer witches in the 
land," said Lois slowly. 

" True ; I would but ask for a respite till the prayers of God's 
people had gone up for His mercy. Some would pray for 
her, poor wretch as she is. You would, Mistress Barclay, I am 
sure?" But he said it in a qaesnoning tone. 



4-24 LOIS THE WITCH. 

*' I have been praying for her in tlie night many a time," said 
Lois, in a low voice. ' ' I pray for her in my heart at this 
moment ; I suppose they are bidden to put her out of the land, 
but I would not have her entirely God-forsaken. But, sir, you 
have not read my cousin's letter. And she bade me bring back 
an answer with much urgency." 

Still he delayed. He was thinking of the dreadful confession 
he came from hearing. If it were true, the beautiful earth was 
a polluted place, and he almost wished to die, to escape from 
such pollution, into the white innocence of those who stood in 
the presence of God. 

Suddenly his eyes fell on Lois's pure, grave face, upturned 
and watching his. Faith in earthly goodness came over his 
soul in that instant, " and he blessed her unaware." 

He put his hand on her shoulder, with an action half 
paternal — although the difference in their ages was not above 
a dozen years — and, bending a little towards her, whispered, half 
to himself, " Mistress Barclay, you have done me good." 

**I!" said Lois, half affrighted; "I done you good! 
How?" 

"By being what you are. But, perhaps, I should rather 
thank God, who sent you at the very moment when my soul 
was so disquieted." 

At this instant, they were aware of Faith standing in front of 
them, with a countenance of thunder. Her angry look made 
Lois feel guilty. She had not enough urged the pastor to read 
his letter, she thought ; and it was indignation at this delay in 
what she had been commissioned to do with the urgency of life 
or death, that made her cousin lower at her so from beneath 
her straight black brows. Lois explained how she had not 
found Mr. Nolan at his lodgings, and had had to follow him 
to the door of the gaol. But Faith replied, with obdurate 
contempt — 

"Spare thy breath, Cousin Lois. It is easy seeing on what 
pleasant matters thou and the Pastor Nolan were talking, 
r^ marvel not at thy forgetfulness. My mind is changed. 
Give me back my letter, sir ; it was about a poor matter — 
an old woman's life. And what is that compared to a young 
girl's love?" 

Lois heard but for an instant ; did not understand that her 
cousin, in her jealous anger, could suspect the existence of such 



LOIS THE WITCH. 425 

a feeling as love between her and Mr. Nolan. No imagination 
as to its possibility had ever entered her mind ; she had re- 
spected him, almost revered him — nay, had liked him as the 
probable husband of Faith. At the thought that her cousin 
could believe her guilty of such treachery, her grave eyes dilated, 
and fixed themselves on the flaming countenance of Faith. That 
serious, unprotesting manner of perfect innocence must have 
told on her accuser, had it not been that, at the sam.e instant, 
the latter caught sight of the crimsoned and disturbed counte- 
nance of the pastor, who felt the veil rent off the unconscious 
secret of his heart. Faith snatched her letter out of his hands, 
and said — 

"Let the witch hang! What care I? She has done 
harm enough with her charms and her sorcery on Pastor 
Tappau's girls. Let her die, and let all other witches look 
to themselves ; for there be many kinds of witchcraft abroad. 
Cousin Lois, thou wilt like best to stop with Pastor Nolan, 
or I would pray thee to come back with me to breakfast." 

Lois was not to be daunted by jealous sarcasm. She 
held out her hand to Pastor Nolan, determined to take no 
heed of her cousin's mad words, but to bid him farewell in 
her accustomed manner. He hesitated before taking it, 
and when he did, it was with a convulsive squeeze that 
almost made her start. Faith waited and watched all, with 
set lips and vengeful eyes. She bade no farewell ; she spake 
no word ; but grasping Lois tightly by the back of the arm 
she almost drove her before her down the street till they 
reached their home. 

The arrangement for the morning was this : Grace Hick- 
son and her son Manasseh were to be present at the hang- 
ing of the first witch executed in Salem, as pious and godly 
heads of a family. All the other members were strictly for- 
bidden to stir out, until such time as the low-tolling bell 
announced that all was over in this world for Hota, the 
Indian witch. When the execution was ended, there was 
to be a solemn prayer-meeting of all the inhabitants of 
Salem ; ministers had come from a distance to aid by the 
efficacy of their prayers in these efforts to purge the land 
of the devil and his servants. There was reason to think 
that the great old meeting-house would be crowded ; and 
when Faith and Lois reached home, Grace Hickson was 



426 LOIS THE WITCH. 

giving her directions to Prudence, urging her to be ready 
for an early start to that place. The stern old woman was 
troubled in her mind at the anticipation of the sight she 
was to see, before many minutes were over, and spoke in 
a more hurried and incoherent manner than was her wont 
She was dressed in her Sunday best ; but her face was very 
grey and colourless, and she seemed afraid to cease speak- 
ing about household affairs, for fear she should have time 
to think. Manasseh stood by her, perfectly, rigidly still ; 
he also was in his Sunday clothes. His face, too, was paler 
than its wont, but it wore a kind of absent, rapt expression, 
almost like that of a man who sees a vision. As Faith 
entered, still holding Lois in her fierce grasp, Manasseh 
started and smiled, but still dreamily. His manner was so 
peculiar, that even his mother stayed her talking to observe 
him more closely ; he was in that state of excitement which 
usually ended in what his mother and certain of her friends 
esteemed a prophetic revelation. He began to speak, at 
first very low, and then his voice increased in power. 

"How beautiful is the land of Beulah, far over the sea, 
beyond the mountains ! Thither the angels carry her, lying 
back in their arms like one fainting. They shall kiss away 
the black circle of death, and lay her down at the feet of 
the Lamb. I hear her pleading there for those on earth 
who consented to her death. O Lois ! pray also for me, 
pray for me, miserable ! " 

When he uttered his cousin's name all their eyes turned 
towards her. It was to her that his vision related ! She 
stood among them, amazed, awe-stricken, but not like one 
affrighted or dismayed. She was the first to speak — 

** Dear friends, do not think of me ; his words may or 
may not be true. I am in God's hands all the same, 
whether he have the gift of prophecy or not. Besides, hear 
you not that I end where all would fam end? Think of 
him, and of his needs. Such times as these always leave 
him exhausted and weary, and he comes out of them." 

And she busied herself m cares for his refreshment, aiding 
her aunt's trembling hands to set before him the requisite 
food, as he now sat tired and bewildered, gathering together 
with difficulty his scattered senses. 

Prudence did all she could to assist and speed their de- 



LOIS THE WITCH. 427 

parture. But Faith stood apart, watching in silence with her 
passionate, angry eyes. 

As soon as they had set out on their solemn, fatal errand, 
Faith left the room. She had not tasted food or touched 
drink. Indeed, they all felt sick at heart. The moment 
her sister had gone upstairs, Prudence sprang to the settle 
on which Lois had thrown down her cloak and hood — 

"Lend me your muffles and mantle, Cousin Lois. I never 
yet saw a woman hanged, and I see not why I should not 
go. I will stand on the edge of the crowd ; no one will 
know me, and I will be home long before my mother." 

"No!" said Lois, "that may not be. My aunt would 
be sore displeased. I wonder at you, Prudence, seeking to 
witness such a sight." And as she spoke she held fast her 
cloak, which Prudence vehemently struggled for. 

Faith returned, brought back possibly by the sound of the 
struggle. She smiled — a deadly smile. 

' ' Give it up, Prudence. Strive no more with her. She 
has brought success in this world, and we are but her 
slaves." 

"Oh, Faith!" said Lois, relinquishing her hold of the 
cloak, and turning round with passionate reproach in her 
look and voice, "what have I done that you should speak 
so of me ; you, that I have loved as I think one loves a 
sister?" 

Prudence did not lose her opportunity, but hastily arrayed 
herself in the mantle, which was too large for her, and which 
she had, therefore, considered as well adapted for conceal- 
ment ; but, as she went towards the door, her feet became 
entangled in the unusual length, and she fell, bruising her 
arm pretty sharply. 

"Take care, another time, how you meddle with a witch's 
things," said Faith, as one scarcely believing her own words, 
but at enmity with all the world in her bitter jealousy of heart. 
Prudence rubbed her arm, and looked stealthily at Lois. 

"Witch Lois! Witch Lois !" said she at last, softly, pull- 
ing a childish face of spite at her. 

"Oh, hush. Prudence. Do not bandy such terrible words. 
Let me look at thine arm. I am sorry for thy hurt, only glad 
that it has kept thee from disobeying thy mother." 

"Away, away!" said Prudence, springing from her, "I 



428 LOIS THE WITCH. 

am afeared of her in very truth, Faith. Keep between me 
and the witch, or I will throw a stool at her." 

Faith smiled — it was a bad and wicked smile — but she did 
not stir to calm the fears she had called up in her young 
sister. Just at this moment the bell began to toll. Hota, 
the Indian witch, was dead. Lois covered her face with her 
hands. Even Faith went a deadlier pale than she had been, 
and said, sighing, " Poor Hota ! But death is best." 

Prudence alone seemed unmoved by any thoughts connected 
with the solemn, monotonous sound. Her only consideration 
was, that now she might go out into the street and see the 
sights, and hear the news, and escape from the terror which 
she felt at the presence of her cousin. She flew upstairs to 
find her own mantle, ran down again, and past Lois, before 
the English girl had finished her prayer, and was speedily 
mingled among the crowd going to the meeting-house. There 
also Faith and Lois came in due course of time, but separately, 
not together. Faith so evidently avoided Lois, that she, 
humbled and grieved, could not force her company upon 
her cousin, but loitered a little behind — the quiet tears steal- 
ing down her face, shed for the many causes that had occurred 
this morning. 

The meeting-house was full to suffocation ; and, as it some- 
times happens on such occasions, the greatest crowd was 
close about the doors, from the fact that few saw, on their 
first entrance, where there might be possible spaces into 
which they could wedge themselves. Yet they were im- 
patient of any arrivals from the outside, and pushed and 
hustled Faith, and after her Lois, till the two were forced 
on to a conspicuous place in the very centre of the building, 
where there was no chance of a seat, but still space to stand 
in. Several stood around, the pulpit being in the middle, 
and already occupied by two ministers in Geneva bands and 
gowns, while other ministers, similarly attired, stood holding 
on to it, almost as if they were giving support instead of 
receiving it. Grace Hickson and her son sat decorously in 
their own pew, thereby showing that they had arrived early 
from the execution. You might almost have traced out the 
number of those who had been at the hanging of the Indian 
witch by the expression of their countenances. They were 
awe-stricken into terrible repose ; while the crowd pouring 



LOIS THE WITCH. 429 

in, still pouring in, of those who had not attended the execu- 
tion, looked all restless, and excited, and fierce. A buzz 
went round the meeting that the stranger minister who stood 
along with Pastor Tappau in the pulpit was no other than 
Dr. Cotton Mather himself, come all the way from Boston to 
assist in purging Salem of witches. 

And now Pastor Tappau began his prayer, extempore, as 
was the custom. His words were wild and incoherent, as 
might be expected from a man who had just been consent 
ing to the bloody death of one who was, but a few days ago, 
a member of his own family ; violent and passionate, as was 
to be looked for in the father of children, whom he believed 
to suffer so fearfully from the crime he would denounce before 
the Lord. He sat down at length from pure exhaustion. 
Then Dr. Cotton Mather stood forward : he did not utter 
more than a few words of prayer, calm in comparison with 
what had gone before, and then he went on to address the 
great crowd before him in a quiet, argumentative way, but 
arranging what he had to say with something of the same 
kind of skill which Antony used in his speech to the Romans 
after Caesar's murder. Some of Dr. Mather's words have 
been preserved to us, as he afterwards wrote them down in 
one of his works. Speaking of those "unbelieving Sadducees" 
who doubted the existence of such a crime, he said : ' ' Instead 
of their apish shouts and jeers at blessed Scripture, and histories 
which have such undoubted confirmation as that no man 
that has breeding enough to regard the common laws of 
human society will offer to doubt of them, it becomes us 
rather to adore the goodness of God, who from the mouths 
of babes and suckhngs has ordained truth, and by the means 
of the sore afflicted children of your godly pastor, has revealed 
the fact that the devils have with most horrid operations 
broken in upon your neighbourhood. Let us beseech Him 
that their power may be restrained, and that they go not 
so far in their evil machinations as they did but four years 
ago in the city of Boston, where I was the humble means, 
under God, of loosing from the power of Satan the four 
children of that rehgious and blessed man, Mr. Goodwin, 
These four babes of grace were bewitched by an Irish witch ; 
there is no end of the narration of the torments they had 
to submit to. At one time they would bark like dogs, at 



430 LOIS THE WITCH. 

another purr like cats ; yea, they v/ould fly hke geese, and 
be carried with an incredible swiftness, having but just their 
toes now and then upon the ground, sometimes not once 
in twenty feet, and their arms waved hke those of a bird. 
Yet, at other times, by the helHsh devices of the woman who 
had bewitched them, they could not stir without limping, 
for, by means of an invisible chain, she hampered their 
limbs, or, sometimes, by means of a noose, almost choked 
them. One in special was subjected by this woman of 
Satan to such heat as of an oven, that I myself have seen 
the sweat drop from off her, while all around were moderately 
cold and well at ease. But not to trouble you with more 
of my stories, I will go on to prove that it was Satan himself 
that held power over her. For a very remarkable thing it 
was, that she was not permitted by that evil spirit to read 
any godly or religious book, speaking the truth as it is in 
Jesus. She could read Popish books well enough, while 
both sight and speech seemed to fail her when I gave her 
the Assembly's Catechism. Again, she w^as fond of that 
prelatical Book of Common Prayer, which is but the Roman 
mass-book in an English and ungodly shape. In the midst 
of her sufferings, if one put the Prayer-book into her hands 
it relieved her. Yet, mark you, she could never be brought 
to read the Lord's Prayer, whatever book she met with it 
in, proving thereby distinctly that she was in league with 
the devil. I took her into my own house, that I, even as 
Dr. Martin Luther did, might wrestle with the devil, and 
have my fling at him. But when I called my household to 
prayer, the devils that possessed her caused her to whistle, 
and sing, and yell in a discordant and hellish fashion." 

At this very instant a shrill, clear whistle pierced all ears. 
Dr. Mather stopped for a moment — 

" Satan is among you ! " he cried. " Look to yourselves ! " 
And he prayed with fervour, as if against a present and threat- 
ening enemy ; but no one heeded him. Whence came that 
ominous, unearthly whistle? Every man watched his neigh- 
bour. Again the whistle, out of their very midst ! And then 
a bustle in a corner of the building, three or four people 
stirring, without any cause immediately perceptible to those 
at a distance, the movement spread, and, directly after, a 
passage even in that dense mass of people was cleared for two 



I 



LOIS THE WITCH. 43 1 

inen, who bore forwards Prudence Hickson, lying rigid as a 
log of wood, in the convulsive position of one who suffered 
from an epileptic fit. They laid her down among the ministers 
who were gathered round the pulpit. Her mother came to 
her, sending up a wailing cry at the sight of her distorted 
child. Dr. Mather came down from the pulpit and stood over 
her, exorcising the devil in possession, as one accustomed to 
such scenes. The crowd pressed forward in mute horror. At 
length her rigidity of form and feature gave way, and she was 
terribly convulsed — torn by the devil, as they called it. By- 
and-by the violence of the attack was over, and the spectators 
began to breathe once more, though still the former horror 
brooded over them, and they listened as if for the sudden 
ominous whistle again, and glanced fearfully around, as if 
Satan were at their backs picking out his next victim. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Mather, Pastor Tappau, and one or two 
others were exhorting Prudence to reveal, if she could, the 
name of the person, the witch, who, by influence over Satan, 
had subjected the child to such torture as that which they had 
just witnessed. They bade her speak in the name of the Lord. 
She whispered a name in the low voice of exhaustion. None 
of the congregation could hear what it was. But the Pastor 
Tappau, when he heard it, drew back in dismay, while Dr. 
Mather, knowing not to whom the name belonged, cried out, 
in a clear, cold voice — 

" Know ye one Lois Barclay ; for it is she who hath bewitched 
this poor child?" 

The answer was givea rather by action than by word, 
although a low murmur went up from many. But all fell 
back, as far as falling back in such a crowd was possible, 
from Lois Barclay, where she stood — and looked on her with 
surprise and horror. A space of some feet, where no possibility 
of space had seemed to be not a minute before, left Lois 
standing alone, with every eye fixed upon her in hatred and 
dread. She stood like one speechless, tongue-tied, as if in a 
dream. She a witch ! accursed as witches were in the sight 
of God and man ! Her smooth, healthy face became contracted 
into shrivel and pallor, but she uttered not a word, only looked 
at Dr. Mather with her dilated terrified eyes. 

Some one said, "She is of the household of Grace Hickson, 
a God-fearing woman." Lois did not know if the words were 



432 LOIS THE VriTCH. 

in her favour or not. She did not think about them, even ; 
they told less on her than on any person present. She a witch ! 
and the silver glittering Avon, and the drowning woman she 
had seen in her childhood at Barford — at home in England — 
were before her, and her eyes fell before her doom. There 
was some commotion — some rustling of papers ; the magistrates 
of the town were drawing near the pulpit and consulting with 
the ministers. Dr. Mather spoke again — • 

"The Indian woman, who was hung this morning, named 
certain people, whom she deposed to having seen at the horrible 
meetings for the worship of Satan ; but there is no name of 
Lois Barclay down upon the paper, although we are stricken 
at the sight of the names of some " 

An interruption — a consultation. Again Dr. Mather spoke — 

"Bring the accused witch, Lois Barclay, near to this poor 
suffering child of Christ." 

They rushed forward to force Lois to the place where 
Prudence lay. But Lois walked forward of herself — 

" Prudence," she said, in such a sweet, touching voice, that, 
long afterwards, those who heard it that day spoke of it to 
their children, " have I ever said an unkind word to you, much 
less done you an ill turn? Speak, dear child! You did not 
know what you said just now, did you?" 

But Prudence writhed away from her approach, and screamed 
out, as if stricken with fresh agony — 

"Take her away ! take her away ! Witch Lois ! Witch Lois, 
who threw me down only this morning, and turned my arm 
black and blue." And she bared her arm, as if in confirmation 
of her words. It was sorely bruised. 

"I was not near you, Prudence!" said Lois sadly. But 
that was only reckoned fresh evidence of her diabolical 
power. 

Lois's brain began to get bewildered. Witch Lois, she a 
witch, abhorred of all men ! yet she would try to think, and 
make one more effort. 

" Aunt Hickson," she said, and Grace came forwards. "Am 
I a witch. Aunt Hickson?" she asked: for her aunt, stern, 
harsh, unloving as she might be, was truth itself; and Lois 
thought — so near to delirium had she come — if her aunt con- 
demned her, it was possible she might indeed be a witch. 

Grace Hickson faced her unwillinjT-lv. 



LOIS THE WITCH. 433 

"It is a stain upon our family for ever," was the thought in 
her mind. 

"It is for God to judge whether thou art a witch or not. 
Not for me." 

"Alas, alas!" moaned Lois; for she had looked at Faith, 
and learnt that no good word was to be expected from her 
gloomy face and averted eyes. The meeting-house was full 
of eager voices, repressed, out of reverence for the place, into 
tones of earnest murmuring that seemed to fill the air with 
gathering sounds of anger, and those who had first fallen back 
from the place where Lois stood were now pressing forwards 
and round about her, ready to seize the young friendless girl, 
and bear her off to prison. Those who might have been, who 
ought to have been, her friends, were either averse or indifferent 
to her ; though only Prudence made any open outcry upon her. 
That evil child cried out perpetually that Lois had cast a 
devilish spell upon her, and bade them keep the witch away 
from her ; and, indeed, Prudence was strangely convulsed when 
once or twice Lois's perplexed and wistful eyes were turned in 
her direction. Here and there girls, women, uttering strange 
cries, pnd apparently suffering from the same kind of convulsive 
fit as that which had attacked Prudence, were centres of a 
group of agitated friends, who muttered much and savagely of 
witchcraft, and the list which had been taken down only the 
night before from Hota's own lips. They demanded to have 
it made pubhc, and objected to the slow forms of the law. 
Others, not so much or so immediately interested in the sufferers, 
were kneeling around, and praying aloud for themselves and 
their own safety, until the excitement should be so much quelled 
as to enable Dr. Cotton Mather to be again heard in prayer 
and exhortation. 

And where was Manasseh? What said he? You must re- 
member that the stir of the outcry, the accusation, the appeals 
of the accused, all seemed to go on at once amid the buzz and 
din of the people who had come to worship God, but remained 
to judge and upbraid their fellow-creature. Till now Lois had 
only caught a glimpse of Manasseh, who was apparently trying 
to push forwards, but whom his mother was holding back with 
word and action, as Lois knew she would hold him back ; for 
it was not for the first time that she was made aware how 
carefully her aunt had always shrouded his decent reputation 



434 LOIS THE WITCH. 

among his fellow-citizens from the least suspicion of his seasons 
of excitement and incipient insanity. On such days, when 
he himself imagined that he heard prophetic voices and saw 
prophetic visions, his mother would do much to prevent any 
besides his own family from seeing him ; and now Lois, by a 
process swifter than reasoning, felt certain, from her one look 
at his face when she saw it, colourless and deformed by inten- 
sity of expression, among a number of others all simply ruddy 
and angry, that he was in such a state that his mother would in 
vain do her utmost to prevent his making himself conspicuous. 
Whatever force or argument Grace used, it was of no avail. 
In another moment he was by Lois's side, stammering with 
excitement, and giving vague testimony, which would have 
been of little value in a calm court of justice, and was only oil 
to the smouldering fire of that audience. 

" Away with her to gaol ! " " Seek out the witches ! " " The 
sin has spread into all households!" "Satan is in the very 
midst of us ! " "Strike and spare not ! " In vain Dr. Cotton 
Mather raised his voice in loud prayers, in which he assumed 
the guilt of the accused girl; no one listened, all were anxious 
to secure Lois, as if they feared she would vanish from before 
their very eyes ; she, white, trembling, standing quite still in 
the tight grasp of strange, fierce men, her dilated eyes only 
wandering a little now and then in search of some pitiful face 
— some pitiful face that among all those hundreds was not to 
be found. While some fetched cords to bind her, and others, 
by low questions, suggested new accusations to the distempered 
brain of Prudence, Manasseh obtained a hearing once more. 
Addressing Dr. Cotton Mather, he said, evidently anxious to 
make clear some new argument that had just suggested itself 
to him : " Sir, in this matter, be she witch or not, the end has 
been foreshown to me by the spirit of prophecy. Now, reverend 
sir, if the event be known to the spirit, it must have been fore- 
doomed in the counsels of God. If so, why punish her for doing 
that in which she had no free will?" 

"Young man," said Dr. Mather, bending down from the 
pulpit and looking very severely upon Manasseh, "take care ! 
you are trenching on blasphemy." 

" I do not care. I say it again. Either Lois Barclay is a 
witch, or she is not. If she is, it has been foredoomed for her, 
for I have seen a vision of her death as a condemned witch 



LOIS THE WITCH. 435 

for many months past — and the voice has told me there was 

but one escape for her, — Lois — the voice you know " In 

his excitement he began to wander a httle, but it was touching 
to see how conscious he was that by giving way he would lose 
the thread of the logical argument by which he hoped to prove 
that Lois ought not to be punished, and with what an effort he 
wrenched his imagination away from the old ideas, and strove 
to concentrate all his mind upon the plea that, if Lois was a 
witch, it had been shown him by prophecy ; and if there was 
prophecy there must be foreknowledge ; if foreknowledge, free- 
dom ; if